Sunday, September 27, 2009

Santiago Oaks Regional Park


A hike at Santiago Oaks Regional Park is a fun hike in the northern foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. This past weekend Ashley and I had a chance to go hiking in Santiago Oaks Regional Park. This was our first visit to Santiago Oaks Regional Park which offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding areas. Santiago Oaks Regional Park is truly a nature lovers paradise and makes for great hiking in Orange County. This is a great place to hike and a must do for any hiker in Orange County.


Directions to Trailhead: Santiago Oaks Regional Park is located at 2145 N. Windes Drive Orange, CA 92869. Coming From South Orange County, taking the 5 freeway, exit at Jamboree. Take Jamboree all the way to the end of Jamboree and make a left on East Santiago Rd. Make a right on Winds Drive which takes you to the entrance for Santiago Oaks Regional Park. To find your way using map quest please click Here. Because this is a regional park, parking costs 5 dollars.

Description of Hike: There are numerous hiking trails located inside Santiago Oaks Regional Park. With the large amount of trails, there are options for a shorter easier hike and options for a longer strenuous hike. (depends on the amount of time you have to hike in this Orange County Park) Click Here for a map of the hiking trails at Santiago Oaks Regional Park. Ashley and I did approximately a 4 mile hike while we were visiting Santiago Oaks Regional Park. We have listed all the trails we took below. This hike took us a leisurely 3 hrs because we stopped many times to take pictures and enjoy our time being out in nature. From the parking lot we took the Santiago Creek Trail to the Towhee trail, right on the wilderness trail, left on Oak Trail, right on Bumble Bee trail, Right on Cactus Canyon Trail, right on Barham Ridge, Right on Mountain Goat Trail, Left on Santiago Creek Trail the left on the Historic Dam Trail to the parking lot. The trails at Santiago Oaks Regional Park are well mark and it is very easy to navigate around in the park. Make sure to ask for a map of the trails at the entrance to the park. Portions of this park have a lot of hills, so be ready for a work out if you chose to tackle the trails that go up these hills like Ashley and I did. Click Here for the Santiago Oaks Regional Park Brochure.

Further Thoughts: Santiago Oaks Regional Park is a great place to go hiking in Orange County, because of the wide variety of hiking trails. Although the park appears small, it is not, as it 1,760 acres and is associated with over 4,000 acres of wilderness that connect back with the Cleveland National Forest. Santiago Oaks Regional Park also has a lot of wildlife. It is very obvious from the tracks that deer frequently visit the park as well as other animals. We did see Mountain Lion tracks while hiking at Santiago Oaks Regional Park. It makes since because wherever the deer are you have mountain lions.

There is also a historic component to the park. Santiago Oaks Regional Park has a historic dam that is well worth the trip to see. There was plenty of water being released from the dam when Ashley and I were there.  It was also the first time that Ashley and I have seen a frog on any of the hikes we have done in Southern California. We also saw two pond turtles while on the trail that goes by the historical dam, something we have never seen on any of our other hikes.

The one sad thing about this park is that 90% of the park burned a couple years ago. The damage done to the terrain of the park was still very evident when we went hiking in the park. On March 11, 2007, a vegetation fire started near the Windy Ridge Toll Plaza of the 241 Toll Road. Fueled by heavy winds and dry vegetation, the fire spread in a southwesterly direction, burning 2,036 acres. In March of 2011, nearly 200 new coastal live oaks were planted at the park in a park restoration project. There is very little shade on the hills in Santiago Oaks Regional Park, so if you go on a hot sunny day bring lots of water and sunscreen. Overall, Santiago Oaks Regional Park is a great place to hike and to see Orange County's wilderness. Beware that large portions of this park are located in a hilly area and some trails are much more challenging than others.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 700 ft. (Moderate: Ridge line and steepness), Distance: 4 Miles Roundtrip (Easy), Note: due to the wide variety of trails any hike here can be as easy or as strenuous as you want to make it.

Time to Complete Hike: 1.5 - 2.5 hours.

View Santiago Oaks Regional Park in a larger map

3 comments:

  1. This site is amazing. Very detailed and nicely organized.

    My family and I are trying to get back into hiking with our youngest now at a age where she would enjoy and appreciate the things I grew up with back home...such as hiking. I always loved it as a kid and now I want to pass this on to my kids.

    Thanks for the awesome web site from someone who did not grow up in the OC.

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  2. My wife and I had a fun time visiting this park today. There are a ton of trails, this is a deceptively large park.

    Photos

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  3. I saw a mountain lion here back in 1998. Beautiful, probably 125 pounds. No problem. She just licked her paws, watched me for 10 minutes, then ran up the hill.

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.