Weir Canyon to Irvine Park
January 30th, 2016
The day began with rays of sunshine, another typical day in Southern California it appeared to be. But, in the near distance gray clouds threatened to cover the sun. As I organized myself for the upcoming hike, I was unsure what attire to wear. I decided to dress for cooler weather as the forecast called for rain in the evening. This turned out to be the correct call as the sun played hide and seek all day in the fast moving clouds.
Today’s expedition was the intermediate hike from the Weir Canyon Trail in Anaheim Hills to the Irvine Regional Park in Orange, California. I estimate this hike to be about 8 to 9 miles taking from 3.5 to 4 hours. The route can be done by combine multiple trails to get to Irvine Park. The route I chose was the Weir Canyon Trail to Lookout Point in the Santiago Oaks Regional Park before traveling to the park.
The trail quickly announced its intensions to us that this would not be an easy day as the contours of Anaheim Hills were in full effect.
A series of quick switch backs went from one hill to another and we then found ourselves on Deer Trail, aptly named as we saw deer near the ridge of an adjacent hillside. This portion of the trail was the beginning of an onslaught of mountain bikers sharing the trails and making it an inconvenience through out the first half of the hike. Undeterred, we continued our strenuous ascent to Barham Ridge Trail and we arrived at a point of interest, Lookout Point. The vantage point revealed stunning vistas. Rolling hills surrounded by suburbia for this park is not in a far off corner of California, but in the populated and famed Orange County of Southern California. After a short stop taking in the views, we continued on Barham Ridge Trail and then made our very steep descent down Ridge Chute Trail. This portion of the trail was made dangerous with the multiple groups of mountain bikers speeding down the sharp hillsides on very narrow trails.
As the terrain became flat we now followed the Roadrunner Loop Trail which provided a different experience with thick shrubs and tree-lined paths. As the path cleared, we exited the mini-forest, we could see the parking lot of Irvine Regional Park. Also, we could here the voices of children playing in the fields of the park. We quickly found a picnic table and refueled with protein bars and juices. Personally, I chose to bring a small sandwich to help me energize along with Gatorade. This was our halfway point and had taken us a little over two hours to reach our half way point. We rested for about 20 minutes before picking ourselves up again for the home stretch of the expedition.
For our return route, I chose to follow the Barham Ridge Trail and used an access road that would keep us at the bottom of the canyon on a relatively flat with slow gradual incline back to Anaheim Hills. This trail also does not allow access to the bikers so it was an added bonus I didn’t know about when I planned the itinerary, a pleasant surprise. This trail had a different terrain to the strenuous ridge trails. The bottom of the canyon was green and lined with trees and a much faster way back to the trailhead. Before we new it, we were had completed the loop and were back to my car.
We completed the loop in just under 4 hours but I’m sure it could have been completed in less time since we made several stops. And, if you chose not to take a long stop at Irvine Park, it would shorten your completion time. I would recommend you do this trail on a weekday to avoid the large number of mountain bikers which can make the hike a little dangerous. I recommend doing it in the winter or early spring season for more beautiful and green vistas. I know, Southern California has no seasons, my point is to go when the terrain has had some rain fall. The summer can be extremely hot.
Have you hiked lately?