3 Easy Hikes by the Ocean in Orange County, California

When I am sitting in my yard in Rhode Island, where I transplanted to from California, my memories of home always include being by the beach. Although there are many great family hikes not by the water in Southern California when my family visits, we tend to take walks by the sea. Enjoy two of my favorite easy hikes by the ocean in Orange County.

Dana Point Nature Preserve Trail, Dana Point

hikes in Orange County, California
Overlooking Strand beach, Dana Point

Set in vegetated bluffs over the Pacific Ocean, this is one of the most beautiful hikes by the water in Orange County.

Length of Dana Point Nature Preserve Trail

.9 miles of sandy trail, but if you continue the path opposite the nature center into the neighborhood, you can walk farther to Strand Beach.

The Difficulty of the Dana Point Nature Preserve Trail

The trail is short but dirt and, at times, uneven. It is not a good trail for strollers or disabled individuals.

birds at Dana Point Nature Preserve
Allen’s Hummingbird, Dana Point

Features of the Dana Point Nature Trail

There is an educational center at the parking lot, but the opening is delayed due to COVID.  You can monitor that here. The trail goes through vegetation to various ocean overlooks with benches. When we visited, we saw many seabirds and squirrels.

Visit Dana Point Nature Trail if you want

an easy nature trail with great reward.

Back Bay Loop, Newport

hikes by the ocean in Orange County, Ca
Sunset view from the Back Bay Overlook

I have been visiting Back Bay since high school. I even got married with my feet in its sands. Back Bay is an estuary in Newport Beach. Estuaries contain brackish water coming from the ocean.

Length of Back Bay Trail

10.5 miles of paved trails

The Difficulty of Back Bay Trail

The trail is smooth and mainly flat, but long if you walk the whole path. The trail is suitable for walking or biking.

Features of Back Bay Trail

There are cacti, flowers, and animals. You can visit the nature center. If you are hungry, there is a restaurant called Back Bay Bistro with patio seating and live music near The Dunes.

Hike the Newport Beach Back Bay Trail if you want

A flat, long walk along an estuary where you can see the city but feel like you are in the middle of nature.

Where are your favorite Orange County hikes by the water? Please let me know in the comments.

1000 Steps Beach, Laguna Beach

beach hiking in Orange County

Even though it is called 1,000 steps, the workout is actually more like 200 steps, which can still be a good workout.

Where to Park for 1000 Steps Beach

TThe address of the beach is 31972 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach. During the week park near 9th street and walk down. On the weekends you can park across the street at the medical center.

Features of 1000 Steps

The water is beautiful bright green in spots. It is connected to two other beaches with rocks and a cave separating them. When my godchildren went there was a seal was in the surf with them.
hikes in southern California

Length of 1000 Steps Trail

.8-miles up and down.

For more Southern California hikes, read 3 Easy Hikes in Southern California.

Get out into nature with these two nature walks by the water in Orange County California. #orangecounty #hikes #naturewalks #California

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7 thoughts on “3 Easy Hikes by the Ocean in Orange County, California”

  1. I wish I had done more coastal hiking when I lived in San Diego. A few times me and my friends went inland to do some mountains and I camped a few times on the beach but each pocket community from San Diego to Orange County has some unique spots.
    I think when we go back, I am gonna drive up to Dana Point and take Darcee on the Nature Reserve hike. It looks relatively easy but the beauty along the shore will be so nice.

  2. Looks relaxing! I’ve only been to California once for business. I really want to get back and explore. I’ll be sure to add some of these trails to our list of things to do out there.

  3. There is something so relaxing about taking a hike along a coastal path alongside the crashing waves. It’s even better if it’s an easy trail too so you can just take it all in. Reminds me of our time in New Zealand and Australia.


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