Bommer Beauty

Hike Bommer Canyon Trail in Irvine

Hiker crossing over a bridge on the trail at Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve in Orange County

Hiking the Bommer Canyon Trail in Irvine checks all the boxes: awesome views, decent exercise, ocean breezes, and educational. This 4.6-mile out-and-back hike in the Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve climbs 810 feet as it passes through the park’s 2,000+ acres filled with oak woodlands, native grasslands, rock outcrops, and coastal sage scrub.

Hiker starting on the Bommer Canyon Trail in its namesake preserved in Orange County

Bright green cacti in the foreground scenery of Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserved

Hiker on a wide open trail at Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve in Orange County

Start on the Bommer Meadow Trail passing through tall grasses and wide-open meadows on a flat and pleasant path. The majority of the trail is exposed with very little shade, but the proximity to the ocean keeps temperatures lower than on inland hikes, thanks to the Mediterranean-type ecosystem found along the southern California coast (there are only four other places in the world with ecosystems like this!).

Hiker on a trail with a tree canopy of some shade at Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve in Orange County

Bommer Canyon is also popular with mountain bikers, so everyone’s got to share the trail with awareness. After about half a mile take the spur trail onto the Nature Loop. Prickly pear cactus and California buckwheat are just a couple of the many native plants found in the loop, and placards describe what you’re seeing on the trail (fun fact: during the spring season goats are brought into the park to help trim back the grasses). The trail also passes by the ruins of the old Irvine Ranch Cattle Camp, an active cattle camp from the 1800s up until the 1970s. When the Nature Loop ends, cross over the Bommer Meadow Trail and take the Bommer Pass Trail up into the hills.

Hiker on a trail at Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve in Orange County

Hiker on open trail at Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve in Orange County

This is when the elevation gain kicks in—the trail climbs up onto the ridge, offering beautiful views of the canyon below. The Bommer Pass Trail ends at the junction with the West Fork Trail. Follow this trail until its end at the border of Crystal Cove State Park. The West Fork Trail has stretches of flat mixed with uphill pushes, with a cool panorama of Irvine and the surrounding Orange County cities. Head back the way you came, except this time skip the Nature Loop and just take the Bommer Meadow Trail all the way back out!

TIP: Most of the trails in the Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve are open to the public every day, but a handful are only open for guided tours and monthly access-day events, to provide a place for wildlife to thrive without constant human intrusion. Check the Irvine Ranch Conservancy website for information regarding tours and access days!

Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve is located in the city of Irvine, off of the I-405 and Culver Dr. Head west on Culver Dr. and then make a left onto Shady Canyon Dr. The park entrance will be on your right in approximately one mile. Parking is limited at the trailhead; if spots are full, continue on Shady Canyon Dr. for about a quarter-mile and park at Turtle Rock Community Park. A trail connects Turtle Rock Park to Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve, adding approximately a quarter-mile to your total hike distance each way. Parking is free at either location. The preserve is open from 7 a.m. to sunset daily. Sorry, no dogs!

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