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Featured National Recreation Trails

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Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.


Mountains to Sea Trail, Orange County, California

The trail runs 22 miles through open space preserves in the suburban landscape south of Los Angeles.


Map of California

photo of people leading horses

Equestrians on the trail through Limestone Canyon

Your journey begins with a docent-led hike in rugged, oak-filled Weir Canyon. It then takes you south through six jurisdictions— five cities and a portion of the County of Orange— guaranteeing that the only constant on this trek is an exhilarating change of scenery and topography.

The Mountains to Sea Trail— the backbone of the 50,000-acre Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks— was created through cooperative municipal planning to let people of all ages and abilities experience unimpeded the magnitude, magnificence and diversity of the Irvine Ranch open space.

From Weir Canyon to Irvine and Peters Canyon Regional Parks, past the historical Irvine Ranch agricultural headquarters and along the San Diego Creek Channel to Upper Newport Bay, there's no more enjoyable way to experience one of the nation's most spectacular networks of parks, trails and preserved natural lands.

Activities allowed on the trail include hiking, running, and walking; equestrian riding; and bicycling. Interesting areas along the trail and open space include Weir Canyon Wilderness Area, Irvine Regional Park, Peters Canyon Regional Park, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, and Upper Newport Bay.

photo of trail by lake

Trail through PEters Canyon

The trail is largely asphalt surfaced, with some sections of concrete and crushed rock. Much of the trail is accessible with an average width of 120 inches and nearly flat grades.

The trail runs through the Cities of Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Irvine, Newport Beach, and the County of Orange. The trail managing agency is the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

Nearly 40,000 acres of open space on the historic Irvine Ranch have been designated a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of Interior. This honor recognizes the exceptional value of these lands to California and the entire nation. The open space through which the the Mountains to Sea Trail runs is part of the 50,000 acres of open space preserved on The Irvine Ranch. The land first received national recognition in 2006 when most of the protected areas on The Irvine Ranch were singled out for their rare biological and geological features through designation as a National Natural Landmark and California Natural Landmark.

For more information:

Mountains to Sea Trail webpage:

Irvine Ranch Conservancy
Phone: 714-508-4755
4727 Portola Parkway, Irvine, CA, 92620-1914

photos of machines and gravel pile

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary along the Mountains to Sea Trail


trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database. Trail managers can update online trail information in the NRT database. You may also e-mail information on minor changes or to update Featured NRT pages.



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The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails:


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