- Location: 8548 E Canyon View Ave, Orange. From the 55 freeway, take the Chapman Ave. exit and head east for a total of 4.7 miles (Chapman becomes Jamboree along the way). Turn right on Canyon View Ave and the park will be on your left. From I-5, take the Jamboree Rd. exit and go north for 5.1 miles and turn left on Canyon View. Parking is $3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends or $7 on holidays.
- Agency: Peters Canyon Regional Park
- Distance: 4.2 miles (longer or shorter routes possible)
- Elevation gain: 550 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – June (open 7am to dusk)
- Dogs: Allowed on leash
- Cell phone reception: Good
- Water: Fountain at trail head
- Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the trail head
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here and here (routes vary); DogTrekker page here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 4
Updated December 2018
Nestled in between a residential neighborhood and the 241 toll road corridor, Peters Canyon Regional Park offers a taste of the wild in the middle of suburbia. Though it lacks the sense of isolation of Orange County’s more remote regional parks such as Caspers or O’Neill, it still provides a good workout with scenic variety, conveniently located to much of central Orange County. It has been a perennial favorite of hikers and joggers alike since its opening in 1992 – and popular among the four-legged community as well. Not only are dogs welcome on leash but numerous bag dispensers and receptacles throughout the park make it easier for owners to, as the signs say, remove “nuisances.”
Several miles of trails run through the park, allowing for many different possible routes of varying lengths and difficulties, ranging from quick little excursions to more ambitious hikes that can still be done in a few hours. The route described here is an oblong figure-8 tour of the majority of the park.
From the parking area, head east on the Lake View Trail, which runs alongside Canyon View Avenue. You pass by a junction with the Willow Trail (currently closed as the area recovers from the Canyon II fire of 2017). At the corner of Jamboree and Canyon View, turn right on the Peters Canyon Trail, also a segment of the longer Mountains to Sea Trail. Follow it south into the park, alongside the reservoir. As of this writing, the water level in the reservoir is at a nearly historic low. A few interpretive plaques describe the history of the reservoir and its role in north Orange County life, human and otherwise.
At 0.7 mile from the start (half a mile from the corner of Canyon View and Jamboree), you reach an X-shaped junction. You have a few options at this point. The route described here stays straight (the steep path descending from the ridge is your return route). Follow the Peters Canyon/Mountains to the Sea trail into the wetlands and in another 0.7 mile, bear right on the Creek Trail. Though you are only a few dozen yards away from houses, the Creek Trail, with its thick wetland vegetation, feels more isolated than any section of the park. Several boardwalks cross the creek.
The trail rejoins the main route. You can extend your hike by continuing south toward the end of the park. This trip, however, follows the Scout Hill Trail, which you will see almost immediately on your left. It makes a short but steep climb, picking up about 150 feet in 0.2 mile to join the East Ridge View Trail. This path follows the rolling contour of the ridge, providing views of north Orange County in both directions. On days of good visibility, you can see the San Gabriels stretching out to the north, from Mt. Lukens to Baldy.
After half a mile on the ridge, you reach a junction. Bear right and follow the East Ridge View Trail to a knoll with a 360-degree panorama. From here, the trail drops to a saddle and then descends back into the canyon to the junction from earlier, a total of 2.9 miles from the starting point. You can retrace your steps along the east side of the reservoir, but for a longer and slightly more interesting return, bear left on the Lake View Trail and follow it as it passes by some homes. The trail runs along the west shore of the lake before returning to the parking area.
Text and photography copyright 2018 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.