Peters Canyon Trail is made up of wide paths surrounded by rolling hills, wild trees, and stunning mountain ranges. It is easy to access and in close proximity to three North Orange County cities: Irvine, Tustin, and Orange. I hiked Peters Canyon Trail with a co-worker on a warm, winter weekend; the first we’ve had after over a month of rain. The sky was abundantly clear, the sun, shining, and we enjoyed walking alongside wild trees, bright, blue lakes, and white, snow-capped mountains.
If you reference the OC Parks website for a map of Peters Canyon Trail, it will direct you to park at the North Entrance where parking is $3. My co-worker and I parked at the South Entrance near Peters Canyon Elementary School along Peters Canyon Road. We arrived at 10:00 am on a Sunday and there was little to no street parking left. If you park at the South Entrance pay close attention to street signs indicating No Parking Zones and if you choose to park in the school parking lot, do so at your own risk!
Peters Canyon Trail in itself is very easy. It is a straight and wide path with plenty of signs. Towards the end of Peters Canyon Trail, as it curves left, you have an option to take Willow Trail between mid-September through mid-March. Since I did this hike in January it was open to walk through and lovely to enjoy! Due to the rain, there were a few large puddles that hikers with strollers were struggling to get over, but aside from that, a great change of scenery.
Once you exit Willow Trail, continue to the left, through the open picnic area (stopping for restrooms if you need to!) to get on Lake View Trail. It is because of the steep hill on this trail, starting around 3/4 of the way up, that this hike received a moderate rating overall. If you are in the mood for an easier hike after that hill, you can continue right to head back on Peters Canyon Trail. My co-worker and I were ready to sweat some more so we veered left toward East Ridge Trail. Summer bodies are made in the winter after all 😉
Snowy peaks with palm trees: you can’t get a view more unique to Southern California than that 🙂 After taking plenty of time to enjoy the view at the top of Lake View Trail, we continued our trek down and then up some more hills along East Ridge Trail. The benefit of taking the high road is that the views get even better and if you hike on a clear day like we did, you can see Catalina Island from the highest point of the ridge. As the old adage goes, what goes up must also come down, so if you have any knee trouble, feel free to keep going on Peters Canyon Trail. I say it every time, but it’s true so I’ll say it again: the views are worth it!
I hope you get the chance to enjoy this hike in Peters Canyon Regional Park while Orange County is still lush and green. I know that the abundance of bright emerald, from rolling hills to forested paths, is inspiring me more than every before to enjoy the nature that surrounds us.
One more note before I leave you. On this I know we can all agree: preserving the sanctity of our parks is crucial to continuing the tradition of outdoor recreation in this country and knowing that they will be there for future generations. The belief that wilderness and wildlife on federal land should be protected is something I know many Americans can identify with. If you are looking for ways to take action against the passing of HR 621, this site contains some good resources. Happy trails!
In Love, Peace, and Hiking ~ xo