Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve Loop

EASY 177 reviews

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve Loop is a 5.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Newport Beach, California that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.3 miles
180 feet

dogs on leash

kid friendly



horseback riding

mountain biking

road biking

trail running





wild flowers


Estuary ecosystem, birdwatching, modernistic buildings, family hike Just about the only vivid shades of green that you will find during California's summer are to be found in the few remaining natural estuaries. The Irvine Coast Trail (ultimately linking UC Irvine by way of San Diego Creek) follows the north bank of upper Newport Bay providing intimate glimpses of a salt marsh ecosystem. Pickleweed and eel grass fill the low flats. Willows, sycamores, and invasive Brazillian Pepper (do not touch!) cover the ground between the dry coastal sage habitat (distinguished by its grasses, buckwheat, and, in some places, cholla cactus) and the salt marsh. Bring binoculars or spotting scopes for a good look at the rare California least tern, skimmers, Great Blue Herons, white pelicans, snowy egrets, and savannah sparrows. Fall brings the best variety of migratory wading birds and ducks. The scenery may not be the best, but the riot of nature that goes on year round makes up for it.

3 months ago

nice walking in the morning

3 months ago

easy flat trails with great views.

5 months ago

I have directions for a nice 3 mile loop on HikingGuy dot com

6 months ago

great place for a walk, a jog, a hike, a run.. everything!

7 months ago

The bridge is closed. But a good path is closer to the water. If you do all the loops it will in zigzag fashion 6miles

8 months ago

One of my favorite go-to spots when I want some fresh air and walk my pup.

Great hike with kids! There's basically 3 levels of hiking. A paved route, an easy dirt route and a slightly more challenging one with steps and inclines. Lots of wildlife, including rabbits, squirrels, lizards, birds and even a coyote. It's near OC airport, so even low flying planes overhead.

9 months ago

Good for a chilly day. No shade for hot days. Very crowded and not very scenic.

9 months ago

This was an easy trail. We were lucky that there was very little traffic. We took our soon to be 3 year old on this trail without any problems. Definitely recommend if you are looking for a peaceful day outdoors.

9 months ago

Beautiful. A walk more than a hike.

10 months ago

Easy, you can see the airplanes taking off from John Wayne airport.

10 months ago

Love the trail! Wish the bicyclists would keep it at 10 mph and give a passing side and number of cyclists in your group along with their bell ringing on the trail. When you're coming from behind I know which way to step and keep us all safe.

nature trips
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Very easy! Nice views and a nice variety of ecosystems to spot along the way. If you go down near the marsh area, definitely wear shoes you doing mind getting a bit mud on!

Monday, July 11, 2016

nice trail but way too much horse poo

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nice view and great for everyone --- kids and adults.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An easy, well-maintained trail that skirts the back bay. This is a GREAT trail! The best time to walk the trail is early in the morning - before 7:00am, which is when John Wayne Airport starts launching jets at a rate of around one every five minutes; the mornings are pristine. During the week, you'll run into people (like me) out walking their dogs in the mornings and evenings (unlike me, though, many don't seem to want to use the little blue crap bags to pick up after their canine companions). During the day the trails are virtually empty. Weekends on the back bay are different; there are TONS of people out walking, riding their bikes and jogging. There's no tree coverage, so - if you're planning on being out during the day - sunscreen and a hat are recommended. At night, the cold can come up pretty quick, so a light jacket is a good idea.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Great hike at the marsh and also by the bay.

paddle sports
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Me and my wife, went here to celebrate our 1st year married, we rent a kayak and spent an hour navigating the upper bay and some channels.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hiking up hill, walking trail.

Despite the fat piles of horse droppings, the air plane noise and super-speed cycling, this is a great walk with kids. LOL They have markers along the trail. My 10 year old and I did 1mile (his choice, I would have done the whole thing).

Animals we saw were loons, turkey vultures and horses (with riders). Very beautiful place, just have to ignore the urbanization surrounding it.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A great trail, had a great time. Saw a bunch of wildlife along the way. Good for family's or a walk by your self!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

great walk, make sure you take the stairs and go down into the bay area, not just up on the ridge. I saw lots of birds and rabbits and even a weasel. very peaceful place despite the airplane noise.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Great bird walk! Make sure you bring a birding scope.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Very peaceful

Sunday, March 23, 2014

This is one of my favorite walking trails simply for the incredible scenery, wildlife and length of trail. Lower Back Bay trail is rather easy, but has a phenomenal zen quality to it. I recommend Back Bay trails (upper or lower). Very peaceful!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It was a really beautiful bike/walk. This trail can be as hard as you want it to be so it's great for families.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pretty cool for a city walk, but watch out for grumpy bikers.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For a casual local hike this is an excellent location, with a great view. I love it.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Easy hike, more of a relaxing stroll I would say. Really great to unwind.

I went around 3:30pm on a Saturday and it wasn't too crowded. There's a dirt parking lot from 7am-sundown right where the trails begin so that's where my friend and I parked.

Nearing the end of our hike the sun was falling and the scene was wonderful.
There's some wildlife here and there that we spotted: bunnies, ducks, and a fox-like cub of some sort?
A lot of people walking their dogs and a good amount on their bikes as well.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

November 2013. When it comes to the Newport Bay, I prefer the upper part. Despite the proximity to the road and the airport, there is a sense of wild beauty to it.

I started at the Muth Interpretive Center, which has free parking and a free video presentation of the wildlife of Newport Bay. This video is only about 10 minutes long, and worth watching prior to your walk. While you're inside, check out the snakes and other live animals they have; this is a wonderful nature center.

The "hike" is more like a stroll on a well-maintained dirt path or paved road (they run parallel to each other, so take the path). It doesn't require hiking shoes or other outdoors gear. It does, however, offer wonderful views of the Back Bay. As a result, this is a great place to take a hiking newbie. Enjoy, and bring your camera! Binoculars are also a great idea, for watching the birds.

road biking
Saturday, November 23, 2013

I love riding my road bike here!!! :)

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