9 Best Dog-Friendly Hikes in Orange County

We all know that a dog is a man’s best friend. Therefore, when you are planning to go for a hike, there is no way you can leave your friend behind! Thus, if you are looking for dog-friendly hikes in Orange County, we got you. You have landed at the best place possible because we have exactly the thing you seek. 

We have put together and listed some of the best options for Orange County dog-friendly hikes. Ranging from easy paved trails to long and tiring hiking adventures, we have something for everyone. The best part is that your dog is always welcome along with you in these adventures. So, this dog-friendly hiking in Orange County trails will serve right by you. Go on, enjoy a quick read!

dog friendly hikes in Orange County

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List of The Best Dog-Friendly Hikes in Orange County

Orange County is home to thousands of miles of amazing trails you can take your dog to. There is a range of extensive dog-friendly walks in Orange County including mountains, beaches, and much more. Apart from dog beaches in Orange County, this area has some of the most beautiful dog-friendly hiking trails.

The list below mentions some of the top picks for the best dog-friendly hikes in Orange County:

1. Salt Creek Trail

Both of the paved and unpaved trails of the Salt Creek Trail System run along the Des Plaines River, Brookfield Zoo, and Salt Creek. So, if you want to go on hiking with small breed dogs, this could be a safe choice. You can enjoy the appealing views of a glacial valley, gravelly moraine, and the unique pool and riffle environment of Salt Creek.

The paved path makes it a great choice for rainy day hikes, provided you carry an umbrella for your dogs. The trailhead is on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Salt Creek Beach Park in Dana Point. You can park at Chapparosa Community Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, and Salt Creek Beach Park.

  • Distance: 7.6 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Recreation Pass ($5) and Parking fee
Salt Creek Trail
Salt Creek Trail

2. San Clemente Beach Trail

San Clemente Beach Trail is undoubtedly one of the best orange county dog-friendly hikes. This beachside trail runs along with one of Southern California’s most beautiful shorelines. Also, if you are looking for those dog-friendly trails near Orange County which allows you to stay close to the town and amenities, this would be a smart choice.

The trailhead begins just behind the train tracks at the end of the pedestrian-only trail near the San Clemente Metrolink station area. It is popularly called the North Beach. You can park in the adjoining parking lots near San Clemente Pier.

  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Time: 1.5 hrs
  • Elevation Gain: 20 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Only the parking fee
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Dog-Friendly Hikes in Orange County_San Clemente Beach Trail
San Clemente Beach Trail

3. Chiquito Falls

The lovely Chiquito Falls is one of the best hikes with dogs in Orange County. This place is usually at its best in the Spring season. The hike is quite exposed, so if you see shade, consider yourself lucky. Make sure you take good advantage of it and rest for a while.

The upper trailhead begins at the east end of Blue Jay Campground. The lower trailhead is located off the San Juan Loop Trail. You can park at the parking area available across the Candy Store on Ortega Highway.

  • Distance: 9.1 miles
  • Time: 4hrs approx.
  • Elevation Gain: 1409 ft.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Forest Adventure Pass ($5)

Recommended Read: Death Valley with Dogs – Activities, Dog Rules, Hotels and Restaurants

4. Las Ramblas Trail

The Las Ramblas Trail is a good choice for people who don’t like much crowd. That is because this place remains usually less crowded in the early mornings. The sweeping mountain views paired with the coastline views add another pretty element to this trail. However, be careful of the multiple steep hills.

The trailhead begins at Camino Las Ramblas in San Juan Capistrano. You can park near the area of San Juan Capistrano.

  • Distance: 5.3 miles
  • Time: 1hr approx.
  • Elevation Gain: 900 ft.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Parking fee
Las Ramblas Trail
Las Ramblas Trail

5. Small Peak in Robinson Ranch

In case you are looking for dog-friendly trails in Orange County that are accessible all around the year, Small Peak is the one. It is not a very long hike but it will be quite a great and tiring workout.

The steep and gravel can sometimes make the footing a bit uneasy. In such cases, you might consider bringing your dog stroller for hiking. You will enjoy some of the most fantastic views on this trail across much of South Orange County.

The trailhead is non-obvious. It begins from the Robinson Ranch Road which eventually leads to Bell View Trail and that would finally lead to Los Pinos Peak.  You can park in the small parking area available near Robinson Ranch Road.

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Time: 1-1.5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1142 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Parking fee

Read Next: 5 Best Dog-Friendly Hikes in Palm Springs

6. Aliso Summit Trail

If you seek some best hikes with dogs in Orange County, the Aliso Summit Trail would be the perfect option for you. This trip to nature allows you to see a variety of wildlife too. That is why it is also one of the most preferred pet-friendly hikes in Orange County. The best part of this trail is that you can enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean at the end.

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The trailhead begins on the Alicia Parkway exit. You can park at Aliso and Wood Canyons before getting started on the trail.

  • Distance: 8.8 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 158 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: $3 for parking fee
Aliso Summit Trail
Aliso Summit Trail

7. Sitton Peak Trail

Sitton Peak Trail is one of the best dog-friendly hikes in Orange County. You can enjoy the sweeping views of San Diego County, Catalina, Santa Ana Mountains, and Orange County. Some of the trail junctions here are not well marked. So, bringing a map with you will help.

Although this hike is moderate for dog walking in Orange County, there are some flat sections too, to catch your breath. It is much easier than the Saddleback Mountain hike with pretty comparable views.

The trailhead begins at San Juan Loop. You will find a sizable parking lot there too. If you don’t have any hiking boots for your dog, check out our top 10 hiking boots for dogs.

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Time: 4:30 hours in total
  • Elevation Gain: Total Ascent= 1960 ft; Highest Elevation= 3273 ft.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Parking Fee

8. Ridgeline Trail

If you are looking for dog-friendly hiking trails in Orange County for rainy weather, Ridgeline Trail is a good choice if you would rather avoid mud. The gradual incline with one very steep hill makes it quite interesting. The gorgeous views along with the paved pathway are why it is popular amongst dog owners.

The trailhead begins at Camino del Rio, San Clemente. You can park in the cul-de-sac at the end of Calle Cordillera.

  • Distance: 4.7 miles
  • Time: 1.5-2 hrs.
  • Elevation Gain: 1545 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: Parking fee $6

9. Colinas Bluff Trail

This moderate suburban hike to ridgetop views is undoubtedly one of the best spots to go for dog-friendly hiking in Orange County. You can enjoy 360-degree views from Santiago Peak to the mesmerizing Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean. If conditions are rainy, try bringing hiking boots for yourself and a dog carrier backpacks if conditions worsen. These are must-have dog hiking gears if you hike with your dog frequently.

The trailhead begins across the lane from the Marina Hills shopping Center. That is located at the corner of Marina Hills Drive and Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel. You can park in the shopping center itself.

  • Distance: 4.5 to 6.7 miles
  • Time: approximately 1.5-2.5 hours.
  • Elevation Gain: 1570 ft. (full version)
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Leash Required: Yes
  • Fee: There is no additional cost necessary.
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Colinas Bluff Trail
Colinas Bluff Trail

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Dog-Friendly Hotels in Orange County

While you are planning on some dog-friendly hikes in Orange County with your pet friend, you must need hotels to rest when necessary. As we all know not all hotels are pet-friendly. Therefore, making a list of the trails is a necessary step before going on dog trails in Orange County.

Below are listed some of the best pet-friendly hotels in Orange County for you and your pet to spend some time. They are 100% approved for pets, so you can step in without worrying.

1. Homewood Suites By Hilton Aliso Viejo Laguna Beach:

This hotel is one of the best dog-friendly places in Orange County. It is situated in Aliso Viejo which is 4km away from the Soka University of America. It features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, a shared lounge and terrace, and private parking. The extra health and hygiene measures assured by them ensure your safety too. >>Book Your Stay<<

2. The Pacific Inn

If you are planning to go for some dog-friendly hikes in Bay Area and looking for a place to stay, this is your ideal hotspot. It is just a few blocks from the water in Seal Beach, California. The comfortable guestrooms with convenient amenities and a personal parking lot make it the perfect option for you. >>Book Your Stay<<

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FAQ: Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Orange County

1. Is Crystal Cove hike dog-friendly?

A: Crystal Cove is not amongst the off-leash dog hikes in Orange County. You need to hold your dogs on a leash and not exceed six feet in length. They are not allowed on the beach or any unpaved trails, like the back-country hiking trails.

2. What is there to do with dogs in Orange County?

A: Some of the fun things to do while going on dog-friendly Orange County hikes are listed as follows:
Dog beaches: Soak up the sun with your pet friend to the beach.
Dog-friendly shopping: Taking your dog out on shopping is a great way to work on their patience skills.
Dog-friendly restaurants: Taking your dog to a restaurant out to eat is an amazing way to strengthen their patience, obedience, and focus skills.
Fun classes: This is a very smart way to bond with your dog.

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