Great Runs in Orange County, CA

Mark Lowenstein
Great Runs
Published in
2 min readNov 25, 2017


Note: This a summary of our Orange County, California running guide. For all the best places to run in Orange County, please visit the Great Runs website.

Over 3 million people live in this area south of Los Angeles, which includes Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana, Newport, and Huntington Beach. Despite its relatively urban and spread out geography, there is good running to be found in Orange County. The best places to run are along the 40 miles of coastline, some of the hill areas, an excellent series of recreational trails, and some large parks. Highlights include:

Irvine Regional Park. Pleasant, 475-acre park nestled among a grove of heritage oak and sycamore trees. Several loop trails.

UC Irvine and Area. Good campus for running. Also nearby: Mason Park (2 mile trail), San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary (11 miles of trails), and Newport Back Bay Loop.

Newport Back Bay Loop. Nature preserve connecting the Upper Newport Bay and Newport Harbor is a popular 10.5 mile loop. South part is prettiest.

Crystal Cove State Park. Run a beach and a canyon all in one run! 2.5 mile paved coastal trail and 10+ miles of backcountry trails in Moro Canyon. You can enjoy the promenade, with great views, or do a more strenuous trail run.

San Clemente Beach Trail. Terrific 2.6 mile trail along side San Clemente Beach, combination paved, sand, boardwalk, and dirt.

Mission Viejo: Oso Creek Trail. O3–4 miles of trails feature an Oak Grove, garden maze, butterfly garden, and a walkway made of recycled glass.

Laguna Niguel and Dana Point Waterfront. One of the most spectacular runs in southern California. A series of headlands and cliffs overlooking Dana Point and Strands Beach, with great views. One can put together a terrific run, with parks, trails, and paths along the harbor and marina.

Santa Ana River Trail. 30-mile recreational trail between Huntington Beach and Riverside, passing several parks and other landmarks.

Balboa Island Tour. A wonderful 2.5 mile dedicated pedestrian path, with great harbor views. For a longer run, hop the ferry and do the 2.9 mile Newport Balboa bike trail.

Newport Balboa Bike Trail. Wonderful 3 mile paved trail on the Balboa peninsula, with great water views. Fun jaunts out to Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier.

Mile Square Park. 670-acre park is one of the best spots to run near Anaheim/Disney. There are lakes, golf courses, nature trails, recreational fields, and more.

Huntington Beach to Newport Beach Trail. Wide, paved bike path is literally right next to the beach in parts. Popular and festive! We’ve included a map and table with segment distances.

For our complete Orange County running guide, click here.



Mark Lowenstein
Great Runs

Author of Great Runs Guide. For Travelers Who Run and Runners Who Travel