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. Woman hiking the Coastal Trail in the Marin Headlands

    Three Beaches to the Wind

    This beautiful 7-mile (round-trip) coastal hike in the Marin Headlands connects three beaches: Muir Beach, Pirates Cove, and Tennessee Cove.

    View
  2. Damme Good Camping

    Just a few miles south of the town of Mendocino is one of the best hike-in (or bike-in) campgrounds on the California coast. Van Damme State Park follows Little River inland from the ocean, and the nine first-come, first-served environmental campsites can be reached via the Fern Canyon Trail.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais Matt Davis Steep Ravine Dipsea to Stinson Beach

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  4. Calaveras Giants

    Contending as some of the tallest, mightiest, and most muscular spectacles in the state are the hulking (and beautiful) trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Hit the trails to witness spectacular groves of giant sequoia redwoods.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Best of the Summer Fests!

    Outdoor winery events featuring films, food, wine, live music, and Sonoma’s cinematic scenery in the background: now that’s a blockbuster summer weekend!

    View
  2. Hiker on Proctor Mountain Loop Trail in Sun Valley Idaho

    Storied Trail

    If ever there was a fairy trail, this 6.8-mile lollipop loop on Sun Valley’s Proctor Mountain is it. The Proctor Mountain Trail is a storied route in more ways than one, starting with its tranquil oasis memorial for a famous writer, Ernest Hemingway.

    View
  3. Two bikers on the Wood River Trail in Sun Valley Idaho

    Two Wheels to Zen

    The family-friendly Wood River Trail goes over an historic bridge, past art sculptures and ranch-roaming horses, all amid sprawling green valley and a mountainous backdrop. Roll out from the Farmers Market at River Run Lodge and pedal the 8-mile (round-trip) ride to Sun Valley’s Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

    View
  4. This Part of the Backbone

    The Ray Miller Trail comprises the final stretch of the Backbone Trail in Malibu’s Point Mugu State Park, and makes an idyllic moderate beach hike during spring and early summer.

    View