: Coming from the 5 freeway, exit at Avery Parkway. Take Avery parkway towards Mission Viejo and follow it until it dead ends at the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course. Parking is available at the golf course or at the end of Avery parkway. There is also a sign indicating trailhead parking at the end of the Avery Parkway. This parking area contains 6-7 parking spots and has a water fountain. The cost of parking is free.
Description of Hike: This trail in the South Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness Park has more of an urban feel to it by the golf course, but begins to provide plenty of wilderness the farther on the trail you go. It is an out and back hike along an uneven dirt trail. The trail has one, unmarked, fork in the road going North. At this point make sure to go to the left, which is the higher option. This trail connects in with the Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness Park (Map) and O’Neil Regional Park to the North. The total miles roundtrip from the trailhead to the Crown Valley Bridge (First Bridge) is 3 miles out and back. There is an elevation gain of approximately 75 feet. If you head south from the trailhead area then you follow a paved pathway into San Juan Capistrano which will take you all the way to the pacific ocean. If you wish to proceed further than the Crown Valley Bridge you can do so all the way until O'Neil Regional Park. This is the mountains to sea corridor that you are hiking on. Also, one interesting note about this hike is that the department of fish and game has been conducting an endangered bird experiment along portions of this trail.
Here is some more information about the Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness area which is located just north of the Crown Valley Bridge which connects Mission Viejo and Ladera Ranch. The Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness addition to O'Neill Regional Park is 935 acres of relatively pristine land. Presently maintained as a wilderness preserve, the Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness is exemplary as a natural area where the rancho days are not far gone and where Golden Eagles, Mule Deer and Mountain Lions still exist. Future recreational use will be passive, including hiking, nature photography and picnicking. In future years, hiking trails will link the Arroyo Trabuco with upper Trabuco Canyon and the nearby Cleveland National Forest in an effort to save much of the twenty mile Trabuco Corridor for public enjoyment.
Further Thoughts: Ashley and I thought this was a nice, picturesque hike in Orange County. It is easy to do with very little elevation gain. Although this hike enters more of a wilderness area once you pass the golf course, the trail runs in between the cities of Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, and the Ladera Ranch area. On weekends expect to see others out on this trail. There is also the chance to see wildlife while on this trail, so make sure to have your cameras ready.
This hike is perfect for anyone who is looking for a quick hike south of the Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness area, but wants to stay local or only has a limited amount of time to go hiking. It is a well traveled trail with people who like to walk their dogs or mountain bike. The good part about this trail is you can make the hike as long or as short as you want to because it extends literally to the base of Saddleback Mountain from Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course.
Rating: Elevation Gain: 75 ft. (Easy), Distance: 3 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).
Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.
MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS IN MISSION VIEJO
Mission Viejo Open Space
Arroyo Trabuco Regional Park (This Post)
View South Arroyo Trabuco in a larger map