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!

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Bike the Monterey Coastal Recreation Trail

    To the Lighthouse

    The Monterey Recreation Trail is one of America's most beautiful coastal experiences, accessible to bikers, strollers, rollers, and walkers. This 8-mile (round-trip) bike ride follows premier parts of the trail before detouring to Pacific Grove's storied Point Pinos Lighthouse.

  2. Sponsored

    The Unexpected Wonders of Monterey

    One of the world’s best teachers? Mother Nature. And one of the best destinations to learn from her? The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Spend a few hours at the Aquarium, then take your pick of self-guided walks...

  3. Tombstones and Tarantulas

    Forget black cats; a randy tarantula crossing your path can really get your heart racing. So can spirits in a cemetery! Visit Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and learn about these misunderstood spiders, plus pay a visit to the Rose Hill Cemetery, where ghosts are said to exist.  

  4. London Calling

    The writer Jack London was known for his adventure stories, and an autumn hike at his namesake state park in Sonoma Valley illuminates more than his career. Eucalyptus, oaks, sprawling vineyards, and brilliant redwoods are part of the autumn magic amid the rich history of the park.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. woman hiking Elkhorn Slough Reserve in Monterey

    Hike Elkhorn Slough Reserve

    Elkhorn Slough Reserve is one of California’s few remaining coastal wetlands. Go on a hike and marvel at one of the state's largest coastal salt marshes, a valued habitat for birds, plant life, sea otters, and marine mammals.

  2. Red Rocks in California

    Colorful badlands, towering buttes, and scenic desert cliffs form a hikers paradise. Red Rock Canyon State Park is a lightly visited desert wonderland where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso range.

  3. Woman hiking up to views from Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park

    Canyons Calling

    Canyon hikes come in all shapes and sizes in Death Valley, and we’ve got two gems. One requires more rigorous scrambling and navigation, and leads to a dryfall; the other takes you up to a brilliant vista.

  4. Hiking Cobb Estate Haunted Forest

    Welcome to Mr. Cobb's Haunted Forest

    The ruins can be explored on an easy 1.5-mile (round-trip) loop trail. Hike it close to dusk for maximum creepiness (just make sure you're out by dusk, when the park closes).