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Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve Loop

EASY 277 reviews

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve Loop is a 5.2 mile heavily 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.

Distance: 5.2 miles Elevation Gain: 226 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

beach

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no shade

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.

hiking
22 days ago

Relaxing and good views

trail running
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Love the Back Bay. There are dirt trails and asphalt trails..great place.

2 months ago

Great easy trail and well maintained

hiking
2 months ago

Good hike for beginners.

hiking
muddy
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Great loop for training, walking, running, cycling, and even a quick trial ride in your whip. Great for brisk mornings!

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

Great trail/s. Lots of paved / unpaved routes to bike or walk.

Snail scramble after rain!

hiking
3 months ago

This is a really nice trail that is good for all levels. It is very well kept with all the trash cans scattered around which is nice. There are tons of different paths which all eventually meet up at some point. There were a good amount of people using the trail for a weekday but there was still plenty of parking when I arrived at 8:30. Lots of dogs can be seen throughout the paths

hiking
closed
muddy
3 months ago

Amazing trail but was muddy from the rain. Beautiful wild flowers going on as well

walking
no shade
3 months ago

Superb with the spring growth. Great birdwatching, raven versus hawk, hawk catching prey ...

3 months ago

easy hike for kids, mind you don't do the whole loop depending in their age but great views

hiking
bugs
no shade
over grown
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

This hike has wide, will established dirt paths and some parts are actually board walk. You can either do an out and back on the south side or the loop on the north side of the estuary. We found plenty of street parking on University Dr. on a Sunday afternoon. Some minuses: You're just below the fight path of John Wayne Airport. The constant noise might grate on your nerves after a while. It might be socially acceptable to come across big piles of horse poop. But then people with dogs seem to think its ok not to pick up after their pets. You have to deal with the "mountain bike" people zipping through some of the skinny paths at times. It's an estuary, which is somewhat stagnant so you can get the smell and bugs at times. There's no shade so bring water, your gonna break a sweat! The scenery and wild flowers are beautiful in the spring.

hiking
no shade
4 months ago

Beautiful trail that’s very easy. It’s close to a body of water so expect some bugs. The terrain is either paved or flat dirt that doesn’t have any big hills so it makes for an easy morning or after noon stroll. It’s currently filled with beautiful yellow flowers because of the recent rain! There’s not much shade but other than that it’s fine. Highly recommend going to check this place out if you want an easy route with beautiful scenery. Sunset is a beautiful time to go! *its also very dog friendly*

walking
4 months ago

A network of existing trails between Costa Mesa, New Port Beach, and Irvine. Trail is mostly dirt but has some paved areas as well allowing for road bikes. No overhead canopy and not a lot of shade, so bring a hat or some sunscreen. Saw a few squirrels, lizards, and a variety of birds. Not spectacular but a decent outting.

hiking
muddy
off trail
5 months ago

hiking
muddy
private property
5 months ago

Great for dogs and kids to be outdoors and off their phones!

hiking
bugs
off trail
5 months ago

It’s a really nice nature run, but the trails are confusing. I kept hitting dead ends and would have to go around.

road biking
7 months ago

Beautiful scenery with wetlands, cliffs, streams, brush, etc. entirely paved and smooth, well maintained trail that is wide enough for two cyclists side by side. Rode on a Friday morning so not too many people out here and mostly walkers and a few cyclists. Cool ocean air temps and shady sunshine made perfect weather. Mild inclines yet steady, subtle climbing. Spots to stop and rest or stretch and snack. We missed the signs and got off the Back Bay trail and ended up on the San Diego trail by accident. At the end we had biked a total of 21 miles. Keep an eye on the signs so you stay on the correct loop trail. Have fun. Ring bell when approaching others from behind.

9 months ago

Very nice easy trail. Restrooms at the interpretive center. Mostly paved except the dirt side trails.

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