Difficulty PG13 Distance 5.1 to 10 miles General information: Hikes with free parking Orange County - Coast Rating: 4-6 Season: Late Winter/Spring

Bommer Canyon to Coastal Peak Park (Irvine)


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Woodlands at the bottom of the West Fork Trail
Sandstone geology in Bommer Canyon

Bommer Canyon to Coastal Peak Park

  • Location: 6400 Shady Canyon Drive, Irvine.  From I-405, take the Culver Drive exit, go south (right if you’re coming from the north, left if from the south) for 2.6 miles and turn left on Shady Canyon Drive.  Go 1.6 miles and park in the lot signed for Bommer Canyon (open daily from 7am to 6pm.)
  • Agency: Irvine Ranch Conservancy
  • Distance: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 950 feet
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain)
  • Best season:  October – May (Trail open from 7am – 6pm)
  • USGS topo map: Tustin; Laguna Beach
  • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
  • More information:  Trail map here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 5

The Bommer Canyon trailhead (not to be confused with similarly named trails in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Crystal Cove State Park) is one of the newer hiking destinations in Orange County, having opened in April of this year. Like other parcels under the jurisdiction of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, this open space provides a nice, convenient opportunity for hiking in an area not known for trails. Some of the trails are only accessible by scheduled tours, but hikers are free to explore the others on their own (while the parking lot is open, from 7am to 6pm.) The route here combines four trails for a moderately challenging hike with great clear-day views.

From the parking lot, head south on the Bommer Meadows Trail.  Although the sights of civilization are never far away, as you leave the parking area, it becomes pleasantly quiet quickly.  The trail crosses two bridges and soon comes to a junction. You can continue on the Bommer Meadows Trail, but this route follows the Nature Loop (right) which continues its gentle climb before descending back into the canyon.  You cross the canyon on another bridge and pass by some abandoned (or perhaps decorative?) farm equipment.

After crossing a paved road, you arrive at the Bommer Pass trail, which makes a short ascent and descent. This brings you to the real work: the West Fork Trail, which climbs almost 600 feet in less than a mile.  As you climb, you get nice views which, on clear days, can include the L.A. skyline, the ocean and the San Gabriels.

The West Fork trail crosses under the 73 toll road, continues its ascent and finally tops out at Coastal Peak Park, which long time readers of this blog will recognize as a trailhead for Crystal Cove State Park.  That means that if the climb up the hill wasn’t punishment enough, you can extend your hike for miles more.  But for hikers who are ready to call it a day, this is a good turnaround point.

Even if you don’t have the time or energy to do the whole route described here, this is certainly a nice place to get out, stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air. While some people bemoan the lack of open space in Orange County, new recreational opportunities, such as this one, continue to present themselves.

Text and photography copyright 2011 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.

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2 comments

  1. ONE-WAY VERSION

    Both Coastal Ridge Park and Bommer Canyon Trail Head are accessible by car, so if you want to do a one-way version of this hike you can start at one end and have some one pick you up at the other.

    ALTERNATE PARKING — OPEN UNTIL 10 P.M.

    Although the parking lot at the Bommer Canyong Trail Head closes at 6 p.m., anyone expecting to return after 6 p.m. can park just across the street (and down a block) at Turtle Rock Community Park, where the parking lt is open until 10 p.m. To reach Turtle Rock Community Park, just continue down Shady Canyon another 1/4 mile, then turn left on Sunnyhill, and turn right into the parking lot. There is actually a trail that leads from the park over to the trailhead.

    A LESS AMBITIOUS VERSION

    For those wanting more of a “stroll” than a “hike,” the first mile or so of this trail meanders through a meadow, with only a very slight, gradual elevation gain. This portion of this trail is suitable for young children, or even pushing a stroller. This portion of the trail is a great way to feel like you’ve gotten outdoors and escaped the city, without actually having to do anything as strenuous as “hiking” 🙂

    A NOTE ABOUT THE ELEVATION GAIN ON THIS TRAIL

    Because there is so little elevation gain in the first mile of this trail, almost all the gain is packed into the last 1.-1.5 miles. The last mile of this trail up to coastal ridge is the steep part, and you’re looking at a fairly constant 10-15% grade.

    A MORE AMBITIOUS EXTENSION OF THIS HIKE

    For those wanting a real workout (and sense of accomplishment) who have the ambition, energy and time, once you reach Coastal Ridge Park you can continue down a trail that takes you all the way to the Crystal Cove State Park ranger station and through the PCH underpass walkway to the beach. It’s 8 miles from the beach to the Bommer Canyon Trail Head. You could have someone come pick you up there in another car, or you can trek the 8 miles back to the Bommer Canyon Trail Head for a 16 mile round trip.

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