Newport Beach Back Bay Trail
Estuary, birdwatching, marsh, scenic side trail. Street parking near the trailhead is free.
Sea breezes make this one of the few treeless trails that you can hike in summer in Southern California. Located far from the ridges, the flat expanses of the marsh do not, at first glance, seem like much of a place to commune with nature, but once you get up close you discover all kinds of wonders including waterfowl, insect life, peculiar vegetation, and fossils.
The trail as reported includes a side loop up Big Canyon, a eutropic arroyo where a pond is becoming filled up due to runoff from blufftop housing. You can lose yourself amid the cattails, bay laurel, and papyrus, allowing yourself the belief that you are far from civilization, perhaps somewhere in the Everglades. Great Blue Herons, American Egrets, and Snowy Egrets stalk the mudflats to the west giving joy to birders who bring spotting scopes in search of waterfowl and shorebirds.
Remember that this is "a multi-purpose trail" for hikers, bikers, and slow-moving autos.