Directions to Trailhead: To get to the main trailhead for Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park exit the 5 freeway at Alicia Parkway and head towards the ocean. Make a right on Awma Rd. The parking area is on your left. This is also some street parking available. A map of the area can be found Here as well as the Google map below. There are other trailhead options available to enter the park, but the main entrance is one of the easier options for accessing the park and it has ample parking. Parking costs 3 dollars.
Description of Hike: The Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is roughly 4,200 acres and has over 30 miles of trails. The main trail through the park is flat and is a very easy hike. There are also more challenging trails available in the park that have significant elevation gain. Ashley and I took Also Creek Trail to the Wood Canyon Trail, the two main trails in the park. We stopped at Cave Rock, Dripping Cave, and the Old Corral, which are several notable points of interest on this hike. To see those points of interest you must also take the dripping cave trail. The overall hike was around 5 miles with approximately 100 feet of elevation gain. Maps of the trails in the park are available at the main trailhead (directions given above). In the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, because of the variety of trails available, you can make your hike as easy or as strenuous as you would like. A printable map of the hiking trails at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park can be found Here. For the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park Brochure, click Here.
Further Thoughts: Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is a great Orange County Hiking location. There are challenging trails available for the more experienced hiker as well as easy trails for the entire family/beginning hiker. One caution when hiking here is there are a lot of mountain bikers who use the park, so be on the lookout while you are on the trails. While we were out in the park we saw families with children as well as seasoned hikers and mountain bikers.
Ashley and I also found a hawk nest while we were hiking and we got good pictures of the nesting pair. It was great to just listen to the hawks communicate back and forth and and to see there interactions. Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park also has two year round streams running through it, which make this a very unique hiking location in Orange County. These streams provide water to the wildlife that inhabits the park. There are also signs posted warning about the possibility of mountain lions in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, however we seriously doubt there are any because the South Coast Wilderness is not big enough to support a mountain lion population for any extended period of time. Additionally, park rangers have told us in the past there have been no confirmed mountain lion sightings in the area for a long time (But there is always a very slight chance one could migrate from the Santa Ana Mountains into the South Coast Wilderness). Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness park does have bobcats though.
Overall, this hike has many things to offer any Orange County Hiker. When you go to the park make sure to stop by the ranger station at the entrance and pick up a map of the trails. If you have any questions the rangers at OC Parks have always been friendly to us and are always happy to answer any questions. We will return to this place soon as it is a great hiking location.
Rating: Elevation Gain: 100 ft. (Easy), Distance: 5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).
MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON ALISO & WOOD CANYONS WILDERNESS PARK
Trail to Dripping Cave (aka: Robbers Cave)(This Post)
Alta Laguna Park Trailhead