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Newport Beach’s Back Bay Trail at Sunset

General Overview: 

The Back Bay is a beautiful nature preserve and estuary in the heart of Orange County, CA. It’s hard to imagine a nature preserve located in such close proximity to Irvine’s central business development and John Wayne Airport. However, the Back Bay flourishes with activity and is a frequent destination for bikers, runners, stand-up paddle boarders, and HIKERS!
There are several trail options and routes to consider when visiting the Back Bay. If you prefer dirt trails, we recommend staying on the Upper Back Bay Trail that overlooks the east section of the bay. If you want the opportunity to come close to various bird species, we recommend the Lower back Bay Trail. If you want to learn more about the wildlife and environment, it’s worth vising the Back Bay Science Center, which provides a hands on overview of the estuarine ecology.  For those that are feeling like a complete and full workout, we recommend hiking around the entire loop!Total Distance: 10.5 miles (complete Back Bay Loop)
Upper Back Bay Trail: 4.0 miles (one-way)
Lower Back Bay Trail: 4.0 miles (one-way)

*The total distance includes a short section along PCH and residential community. 

From scenic estuarine views to the accessible trails, the Back Bay is a perfect desitnation for local Orange County Hikers. We enjoy having this nature enclave in our backyard and being able to easy access it in within 15 minutes from various Orange County cities. Although most of the Back Bay’s trails are flat, there are enough miles to make it challenging enough for any hiker!

Trail Map

View Back Bay – Newport Beach Hike in a larger map


From Los Angeles Area:
  • I-5 South 
  • Take the exit onto CA 55 S toward Newport Beach
  • Take the exit toward State Route 73 S/San Diego Via
  • Merge onto CA-73 S
  • Take the exit toward Jamboree Rd
  • Merge onto SE Bristol St. 
  • Turn right onto Jamboree Rd. 
  • Turn right onto Back Bay Dr.
From San Diego Area: 
  • I-5 North
  • Take the exit onto CA-73 N toward Long Beach (partial toll road)
  • Take the Bonita Canyon Dr exit (partial toll road)
  • Turn left onto Bonita Canyon Dr.
  • Continue onto Ford Rd.
  • Turn left onto Jamboree Rd.
  • Turn right onto Back Bay Dr.
Where to Park:  
Depending on the section of the trail that you want to explore, there are three popular street parking areas available. These areas are identified in the orange county hiking trail map above. Parking in the areas is free, just follow city parking rules.
When to Go
  • Year-around: The Bay Bay Trail is enjoyable all year long! As always, check the weather in advance for rainfall or thunderstorms. Cool, overcast mornings are popular in the summer, as well as warm afternoons. If you plan on doing this hiking trail in the summer, we recommend going in the early morning.

How it Looks:  
Back Bay Trail at Sunset
Panoramic View of Newport Beach’s Back Bay Trail & Newport Harbor
Panoramic View of Newport Beach’s Back Bay Trai
Back Bay Science Center – Newport Beach, CA
Nature Preserve – Newport Beach, CA
Dog Friendly
  • Yes, dogs are allowed on leashes.
Intensity Levels
  • Barry-the-Bear: “This trail is my kind of style! It’s flat and easy to hike. However, I didn’t do the entire Back Bay course (way too long). I did the lower Back Bay, which was about 4 miles.”
  • Larry-the-Lion: “This trail was a little too flat for me. However, I’d do it again for its scenic surroundings. Next time, I want to bring my bike and eat at the Back Bay Bistro for lunch. The menu looked delicious”
  • Chris-the-Cheetah: “I stepped up my Bay Back hike by running its entire course. 10+ miles round-trip! The scenery is absolutely beautiful. I’d definitely go back for a long run along the bay. You can’t beat it!”
Have you been to the Back Bay Trail? Share your experience with a comment below!

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