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Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon


Fun, short hike at Whiting Ranch/Red Rock Canyon



On the day after Christmas, we headed out to Whiting Ranch to try the “Red Rock Canyon” hike.  My hiking book characterized this as “the Grand Canyon of Orange County” so I had high hopes for this hike. 

The hike starts out nicely on a one-way-biking-two-way-hiking trail into the Whiting Ranch area. The hike is cool and tree-covered, exactly what you may need to get out of the sun. Parking is paid-for but you can always park in the nearby parking lot:

Google Map

About 2 miles into the hike, you’ll come to a split in the trail. Here you can stop and picnic, or continue onto your hike in any of several directions. We ate quickly and then continued on our trek into Red Rock Canyon.

The landscape changes dramatically just after you get on the Red Rock Canyon trail. You leave the residential buildings behind and the walls rise up around you… the vegetation drops away, too, and it does begin to resemble a desert.

You can see that further into the hike we drop away from the housing...  and Whiting Ranch is a sizeable wilderness area. 

As the name indicates, in about another mile you are indeed surrounded by sheer red rock canyon wall.  You’ll note how the water has shaped the rock canyon walls.

The end of the hike is well-posted and at the end you’ll turn around and head back.  You’ll find that the way back is faster (it’s slightly downhill).

The elevation felt relatively flat but it was a surprising 500 feet:

All-in-all, it’s a nice 2-hour hike and well worth doing.  Here's the Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon GPS (GPX) file.