10 Mountain Bike Trails in Orange County


Decline Magazine is supported by its readers. We may receive a commission if you buy products using our links.

Known primarily for entertainment and moderate weather, Orange County in California welcomes MTB riders to experience different trails based on their preferences.

The tracks are suitable for beginners, intermediates, and those who want a weekly dose of biking workout. That said, here is a list of the ten best mountain bike trails in Orange County you’d find interesting:

Our-Favorite Mountain Bike Trails in Orange County

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

  • Length: 20 miles
  • Est. riding time: 2 hours
  • Helpline numbers: (949) 923-2200
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Check Booking.com

Sitting at #10 position out of the 1002 mountain bike trails available in California according to Single Tracks, the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is one of the favorite places to visit for MTB enthusiasts.

This trail network consists of some of the most challenging climbs, followed by rough downhill terrains that challenge your bike control skills.

With an elevation of about 1,344 ft., riders would get to enjoy watching the beautiful mountains of Orange County. Note that the network consists of approximately 20 miles of trails that will take you more or less 2 hours to complete at a speed of 10 miles per hour.

On the other hand, downhill surfaces are double-tracked terrains with obstacles spread on them to limit your speed and challenge your bike.

With the kind of steep climbs and downhill trails, Aliso and Canyon Wilderness Park will be one of the most thrilling biking experiences for you.

Make sure you are prepared for what’s about to hit you once you visit this area. Pack your gear with all essentials and maintain a steady hydration supply while climbing your way up on Aliso and Canyon trail network.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

  • Length: 15 miles
  • Est. riding time: 45 minutes
  • Helpline numbers: (949) 923-2245
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

A place where you will find many gated fire roads, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is located in Lake Forest, and it offers several mountain biking terrains for local riders.

Spread at 15 miles, climbing and then riding in between the steep climbs is not as easy as you might expect. Moreover, the terrains are somewhat rough, with sharp and narrow turns that will make your riding more complicated than you’d think.

Whiting Ranch consists of challenging hills that are difficult to cross. On the other hand, it does offer smooth downhill tracks to those who want to feel the thrill of riding their bikes at high speed.

The park’s vast network allows the riders to make their routes long or short according to their will and wish. Keeping the ten mph average in mind will take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete this trail network.

Once you arrive at the trailhead of Whiting Ranch, the management will require you to pay a $3 parking fee. So, make sure that you have the amount available, or else you’ll face difficulties entering the trail system.

San Juan Trail

  • Length: 11 miles
  • Est. riding time: 1 hour
  • Helpline numbers: (951) 736-1811  
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

Not suitable for beginners and even the intermediates, San Juan Trail requires riders who know their skills and could tackle the harsh situations of a hilly surface.

Located in San Juan Capistrano, the trail is about 11 miles long, and it has an out and back configuration. That means, once you complete this trail, you’ll have to get back to the trailhead following the same path.

Don’t get confused about the terrain. It starts with a steep set of switchbacks that lead towards the floor of Hot Springs Canyon. Followed by it is another ascend leading the riders to Sugarloaf Mountain.

Talking about the views, San Juan Trail is the epitome of aesthetics and mesmerizing sceneries. Once you accomplish the climb, spend some time watching the blue sky engulfed into the mountains accordingly.

As the trail is quite advanced, the completion time for an average rider is about 1 hour. Do not rush into completing the track in less time, or there would surely be consequences.

If you are up for a challenge and want to put your riding skills to the test, then this is the trail for you. That’s mainly because of its complex terrain, including large boulders, bushes, and other obstacles.

Turnbull Canyon

  • Length: 29 miles
  • Est. riding time: 3 hours
  • Helpline numbers: (562) 945-9003
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

A pretty commonplace for hikers, Turnbull Canyon is one of the attractions that would surely spark interest in fellow mountain bikers residing in California.

Like the first two trails mentioned above, Turnbull Canyon is a network of multiple singletracks and double-track terrains with smooth uphill and downhill configurations.

More than that, you will also find fire roads entwined with the double-track tracks. Such terrains will indeed challenge your fitness and stamina level.

Talking about the length, this one is the longest trail since it’s 29 miles. You can cover it up in about 3 hours with a steady speed of 10mph.

For starters, once you reach the trailhead, follow the fire roads until you reach the highest point in Turnbull Canyon. From there, you’ll have a bunch of terrains you can choose. Please select the one that looks interesting enough to you and cruise through it with your MTB bike.

Opposite the Turnbull Canyon trails are some more fire roads and singletrack trails, such as the Worsham Canyon trail. You can give it a try, especially if you are done wondering in the Turnbull Canyon.

The Luge

  • Length: 8 miles
  • Est. riding time: 1 hour
  • Helpline numbers: (858) 673-6180
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

The Luge is one of the most popular Orange County trails mainly because of its loop configuration. Full of steep climbs and obnoxious descents, this trail is going to be one of the most thrilling experiences for you as a mountain biker.

Starting with the obvious, The Luge is barely 8 miles, but considering that it’s located in a hilly area, it will take you about 1 hour to complete it.

Start your journey from the trailhead by following the fire roads that you see on the way. After the fire road ends, you will need to buckle up for about 3 to 4 miles of climb.

Prepare for descent once you reach the American Flag as the trail is loopy. Although it will look easy at first, rocks and bushy surfaces will make the ride quite tricky for you.

The weather in the area is moderate, but you’ll quickly get tired and full of sweat on a bright sunny day. Don’t forget to put on sunblock to keep your face, neck, and arms away from the burns.

Fullerton Loop

  • Length: 11 miles
  • Est. riding time: 45 minutes
  • Helpline numbers: (714) 738-6575
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

Located in the heart of Orange County, the Fullerton loop is one mountain bike trail that we deem ideal for beginners.

The Fullerton Loop trail is another very popular trail that consists of smooth terrains with decent downhill and uphill surfaces to help riders enjoy their ride.

Meanwhile, it has a length of about 11 miles, which is easily coverable in about 45 minutes at an average speed of 15mph.

Fullerton Loop consists of single and double-track terrains that are not marked as you can just follow the trail and complete it accordingly.

Some jumps and falls are also there to keep your ride intriguing enough. All in all, the loop is not so much challenging.

Bikers new to mountain biking are encouraged to hit the Fullerton loop. Make sure that you pack your gear wisely and according to the environment’s needs.

Sycamore Canyon Park

  • Length: 19 miles
  • Est. riding time: 2 hours
  • Helpline numbers: (909) 839-7070
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

The Sycamore Canyon Park could be another fine addition to your list of the best mountain biking trails. With scenic views and beautiful imagery, the Canyon Park offers a thrilling and adventurous biking experience to the riders living in Orange County.

Not to mention, this trail system has two main loops available, and you can choose either one of them or both depending upon the time you’ve got.

Talking of the Northern loop first, it consists of about 70% climb, and the rest of the trail is descending with other technicalities and difficulties. It starts with a climb followed by a downhill surface and finishes at an ascent.

However, the Southern Loop offers a little bit of ease and convenience as the terrain gets flattered as you pedal on it. Some places might include a steep climb, but it won’t bother you much.

Sycamore Canyon Park is about 19 miles long. To cover both loops in this area, you’ll need approximately 2 hours at a steady pace of 10mph.

Santiago Oaks

  • Length: 12 miles
  • Est. riding time: 2 hours
  • Helpline numbers: (714) 973-6620
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

Santiago Oaks is known for three challenging climbs, and they are famous with two words, “three bitches.” Yeah, you heard it right.

The trail system is located in Orange, CA, and offers some challenging technicalities to the bikers visiting this place for the first time.

Each climb is quite tricky, so make sure you have enough resources available to accomplish them. Keeping the first aid box and wearing a full-face helmet is a must.

The weather is somewhat moderate, but the wind might hurdle your pedaling, and you’ll get tired earlier than expected. Besides the three climbs, the terrain is smooth and not too bushy. 

One more thing, the sight consists of a fire road and a dam. You can enjoy those scenes after finishing the climbs.

Not to forget, the length of this trail is about 12 miles, but you’ll take longer than 2 hours to finish all three climbs in a single go.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

  • Length: 20 miles
  • Est. riding time: 2 hours
  • Helpline numbers: (949) 923-2235
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

A fantastic trail located in the premises of Laguna Beach, the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park will indeed show you how natural California is.

From bumpy and rough terrains to rocky surfaces and sharp turns on the way, this Wilderness Park will test how dominant your biking skills are.

Most of the terrains on this trail are double-track with a lariat or lasso kind of configuration. Markers are present all over the course to guide the MTB bikes in the best possible way.

The 20 miles length of the track means you’ll cover it in about 2 hours with a steady speed. Moreover, the elevation is not so much. Hence, it would be easier for you to pedal your way across the trail. 

Claremont Wilderness

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Est. riding time: 30 minutes
  • Helpline numbers: (909) 399-5490
  • Restaurants: Yes
  • Hotels: Yes

Claremont Wilderness is one of the easiest trails for mountain bikers to cover. It is home to a loopy trail that consists of grassy surfaced hills with crisscross fire roads followed by smooth singletrack paths.

Other than that, the trail is located in the college town of Claremont, which means that residents of Orange County can easily access it.

The views are astonishing! You can enjoy the beauty of the mountains look down on the County after hitting the peak area without any hassle.

As you know, the trail is easy to cover, and the 5 miles distance should take you no more than 30 minutes.

Bike Parks in Orange County, California

Bosque Trail Park

Orange County’s first trail park has a playground, walking trail, and a separate biking trail available. According to many biking enthusiasts, the place is perfect for enjoying a comfortable ride considering plants and trees, etc.

Bosque Trail is family-friendly, and you can take even your pets there, but you should put a leash on them first. Bikes are also available for rent. The environment is calm and not too noisy.

SCE Bike Trail Park

Resembling the Bosque Trail, SCE is a small biking park consisting of trails to help bikers enjoy their ride.

The park is closer to those who live in Orange County and is well-maintained by the local authorities. Give it a try if you cannot takeout the time to visit a mountain bike trail in Orange County.

Sheep Hills BMX Dirt Trails

Want to experience something thrilling while living in Orange County? You can consider going to Sheep Hills BMX Dirt Trails, as they consist of plenty of ramps and biking trails.

The tracks made are somewhat challenging for MTB riders, making it even more enjoyable. Also, the locals are very welcoming and have been visiting it since the quarantine period and making the most out of it.

Backyard MTB Park

A relatively new place to explore, Backyard MTB Park is not crowded, and it offers a noiseless riding experience to the bikers.

The tracks made there are somewhat natural and full credits to the local authorities for keeping the park away from any damage or disaster.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park

The last mountain bike park you should consider visiting is the Santiago Oaks Regional Park.

Spread in a vast space, Santiago Oaks offers mountain biking, horse riding, and hiking right through the hilly and mountainous areas.

Better visit this park on weekdays as weekends are pretty crowded, and it will surely disturb your biking experience.

MTB Clubs and Groups to Join for a Ride in Orange County

Although there are no official groups or clubs available for mountain biking in Orange County, you can join a local group named Orange County Mountain Biking.

The club is growing, and it has already started working to make sure that the mountain bike trails in Orange County are well-maintained for the locals.

Final Takeaways:

Orange County is home to many popular mountain bike trails, and adding to that are its fantastic weather and beautiful scenery.

Some tracks are suitable for beginners, others for intermediates, and plenty for advanced-level bikers.

Choose the trail you want to visit. We believe it will enhance your biking experience for sure.

You can also consider going to a specific mountain bike park in Orange County if you do not have spare time for the trails.

Happy Biking!

Photo of author

Written By

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Leave a Comment

Related Post