Aliso Creek Trail (Ending at Cooks Corner)

The Aliso Creek Trail is a fun urban hike in Orange County. We are calling this hike an urban hike because of the proximity to roads and homes in certain locations. However, sections of the hike along the northern section of the Aliso Creek Trail are not very urban as they go through portions of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. This is a great hike in Orange County for the entire family to do together. We began our hike at the trailhead near Saddleback Church and hiked the Aliso Creek Trail up to Cooks Corner and back.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Aliso Creek Trail trailhead from Lake Mission Viejo take Marguerite parkway heading north toward El Toro Rd. When you reach El Toro Road make a left onto El Toro Rd. Immediately on the right hand side just shortly after the entrance to Saddleback Church, there is a driveway that goes down to the trailhead. The are about 15 - 20 parking spaces at this trailhead. There is also no charge for parking at this trailhead. Free is a good price.

Description of Hike: The Aliso Creak Trail from the trailhead by saddleback church up to Cooks Corner, is paved the entire way. The Aliso Creek Trail along this section is actually the old El Toro road. This is an out and back hike and section for the Aliso Creek Trail from the Saddleback Church trailhead to Cooks Corner is 4 miles roundtrip. If you go all the way to Cooks Corner when the trail meets up with Santiago Canyon road it is over 4 miles roundtrip. This section of the Aliso Creek Trail has approximately 600 feet of elevation gain. The trail goes through portions of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. There are excellent views of Santiago Peak as well as portions of the Santa Ana Mountains. There are a couple of dirt trails that intersect with the Aliso Creek Trail that allow for off  pavement hiking opportunities (The Edison trail follows the power lines to Whiting Ranch). The Aliso Creek Trail follows along Aliso Creek which usually has plenty of water in it, especially during a rainy year in Southern California. Wildlife frequents Aliso Creek as it is a water source for Orange County Wildlife. A lady out hiking on the Aliso Creek Trail that we talked to told us saw a bobcat on the Aliso Creek Trail a couple weeks before we did this hike.

 Further Thoughts: This portion of the Aliso Creek Trail is a fun hike that Ashley and I have classified as an urban hike. However, it probably has enough wilderness to satisfy most hikers just looking for a quick getaway. There are a number of points of interest for hikers to view along the Aliso Creek Trail. The first is the Historic McFadden Ranch House which is in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and is close to Cooks Corner. There is signage on the trail that alerts hikers to the house. Here is a link with some history on the Historic McFadden Ranch House.

There is also a lot of cactus along the trail and even a couple of lemonade berry bushes. While on the Aliso Creek Trail, Ashley and I saw a tarantula just strolling down the middle of the trail. Tarantulas are absolutely beautiful spiders to watch. There have been confirmed sightings of mountain lions along the Aliso Creek Trail as well as bobcats as this is a wildlife corridor between local wilderness parks. At the end of the trail there is the option to hike the Live Oak Trail which connects with O'Neil Regional Park in Trabuco Canyon. You can increase the length of your hike if you wish to by continuing on the Live Oak Trail when you cross underneath the tunnel under El Toro Rd.

This is a great urban hike, the only negatives are the noise that is associated with the 241 toll road and some noise from El Toro Rd. However, along a majority of the hike the road noise was minimal. Ashley and I had a great time while hiking on the Aliso Creek Trail.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 600 ft. (Easy), Distance: 4 Miles Roundtrip(Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1.5 - 2.5 hours.


October 18, 2010 (This Post)

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