Hiking Project Logo

A hike up and over the hump in Whiting Ranch.

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key





Out and Back

1,469' 448 m


706' 215 m


1,442' 439 m


1,441' 439 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (16°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

OC Parks, including Whiting Ranch, are often closed for several days following rain.


A great hike to get some mileage in with a moderate amount of climbing. The downhills are fun and the scenery is great, with some exposed climbs and views of the surrounding cities and foothills, and some nice singletrack through wooded areas. It's an out and back, so take your pick on the most convenient parking spot (see map). The parking off Portola and Market Place is the actual OC Parks parking area, and also a great starting point.

Need to Know

Park for free at any place nearby, Carl's Jr., 7-Eleven, or down at Home Depot (trail entry point is next to El Pollo Loco). It's a short hike to a Serrano Creek Trail entrance. Or, do this route in reverse, starting at the OC Whiting Ranch Park entrance off of Portola Pkwy and Market Place, but OC Parks parking fee is $3/day.

There is water available at 4 Corners (most, but not all the time), and at the park entrance off Portola and Market Place.


Begin on Serrano Road anywhere south of Portola, where parking is convenient, and take the trail under Portola Pkwy; then hike through the entry gate. Continue up the main trail, Serrano Road, and skip the two side trails Raptor Road and Live Oak Trail.

At the next fork, stay right on Serrano Cow Trail and continue the gradual climb. Pass by the turn to Line Shack Trail, and continue until the left turn onto Whiting Road. Grit your teeth and climb to "Four Corners", where three other trails will connect. Two of these trails climb higher, and you'll pick the one that goes back down, Mustard Road. Before descending, grab some water from the fountain next to the kiosk (keep your fingers crossed that it is flowing, sometimes it's not).

Relax now and enjoy the easy hike down. Ignore any side trails as Mustard Road flows into Borrego Canyon Trail and ends at the Portola parking and trailhead. Get more water at a fountain here, or stop by Ralphs next door and pick up a more refreshing treat.

After recharging, head back up Borrego Canyon Trail and follow signs to stay on Mustard Road. A short distance up Mustard Road, just a couple switchbacks after passing the left-turn onto Red Rock Canyon Trail, take the next left turn and head up Billy Goat Trail. This is a great narrow singletrack with quick switchbacks, and steep ups and downs. This is a hiker-only trail, so don't worry about bikers or horses. At the top, pick your lungs up off the ground, and turn right onto Whiting Spur Road.

Keep right of the water reservoir to drop back into 4 Corners and break for water if needed. Head back down the way you first came up, but hang left to go down Cactus Hill Trail. This is a fast and fun downhill that continues for quite a ways. Take the next two right turns to end up on Sleepy Hollow Trail, and follow this back down into Whiting Road (enjoy the switchbacks and beautiful hike through the trees!)

At the end of Whiting Road, you'll ignore the trail angling back up to your right, and take the next right back onto Serrano Cow Trail. Just past the left turn onto Line Shack Trail, take the left fork onto Live Oak Trail and enjoy a fun and winding singletrack through the trees. When this trail ends, turn right onto Raptor Road and take it back around to Serrano Road. Turn left onto Serrano Road and continue back out of the park and to your starting point.

Flora & Fauna

Lots of bunnies and deer, and if you haven't heard of Whiting Ranch before, this is where several bikers were attacked by a mountain lion, so, yeah, there's them too. And rattlesnakes. Be careful and stay alert.


Shared By:

wesley lummis

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote


in Lake Forest


  5.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Recommended Route Rankings


in Lake Forest


in California


5 Views Last Month
2,342 Since Sep 26, 2017
Intermediate Intermediate



Shady seating under a gorgeous California Live Oak tree
Oct 29, 2018 near Foothil…, CA
Whiting Ranch.
Nov 26, 2016 near Portola…, CA
A hill looking up from the trail.
Nov 25, 2016 near Foothil…, CA
A picture of Cactus Hill Trail from a higher elevation.
Nov 26, 2016 near Portola…, CA
Lead up to four corners, a main junction of the trail system.
Nov 26, 2016 near Portola…, CA
A ridgeline visible from the trail.
Nov 25, 2016 near Foothil…, CA



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Mar 8, 2020
Hector Colindres
Jul 5, 2019
Fher Betancourt
Jun 22, 2018
Craig Chawner
Nov 26, 2017
Joanne L

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started