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Published: May 21 Posted Under: Community

Behind The City: Lake Forest

Looking to move to Lake Forest, CA? Here's what you need to know


Lake Forest, California is one of the most beautiful and fast-growing cities in not only the state, but the country as well. Located in Orange County, it incorporated as a city in 1991 (previously known as El Toro), and expanded its city limits in 2000 to include the developments of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. Along with its neighboring cities Mission Viejo and Irvine, Lake Forest is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country.


The city gets its name from two man-made lakes with condos, custom homes, and club houses lining alongside their shores. They consist of Lake 1 (managed by the Lake Forest Beach and Tennis Club) and Lake 2 (managed by the Sun and Sail Club). The “forest” part of the name is due to being located in between Ridge Route, Jeronimo, Lake Forest, and Serrano roads, which are all made up of mostly Eucalyptus trees. The forest is also man-made and was created in the early 1900s when a local landowner, Dwight Whiting, planted 400 acres of Eucalyptus groves around Serrano Creek as part of a lumber operation intended to draw development to the area. In the late 1960s, the Occidental Petroleum company developed a residential community within and surrounding the Eucalyptus groves, which had long since expanded and grown much denser.

Popular Attractions:

1. Red Rock Canyon in the heart of Whiting Ranch, Red Rock Canyon is a perfect hiking trail for families (4.2 miles roundtrip) and rich with wildlife. The surrounding nature scene and red rocks bring Arizona and Utah qualities to Southern California!

2. Lake Forest Sports ParkUsed seven days a week, the 86-acre Sports Park is one of the largest parks in Orange County devoted to sports fields and a multi-functional recreational center. The pet-friendly park serves approximately 4,700 participants per month during sports games, tournaments, and open gyms and the recreation center hosts camps, special events, and a preschool program. From picnic gazebos, trails for walking, and several playgrounds and tot lots for children, the Sports Park has something for everyone.  

3. Heritage Hill Historical Park Ranging 4.1 acres, the Historical Park preserves some of Orange County’s rich cultural heritage through a collection of four historic buildings. Fully restored and furnished, they represent distinct eras in the early development of the Saddleback Valley and the town of El Toro. Guided tours through the buildings are provided and are also available for weddings and special events.

4. Saddleback Church Founded in 1980, Saddleback Church is a Baptist evangelical Christian megachurch founded by senior pastor Rick Warren. The church has several campuses in California and around the world and boasts a contemporary worship service which gets 22,000 in weekly attendance.

5. Spectrum Center Located less than 5 miles away in Irvine, the Spectrum Center is an outdoor shopping mall featuring top of the line retail stores, a Ferris wheel, and a 21-screen movie theater. Founded in 1995, the Spectrum Center boasts 152 stores and a unique architecture based on the Alhambra from Granada, Spain.

City Profile:


*Source: Livability, 2007


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