Live Oak Trail (O'Neill Regional Park)

O'Neill Regional Park is situated in beautiful Trabuco and Live Oak Canyons. The park is heavily wooded with coast live oak and sycamore trees. The hillsides surrounding the park are filled with cactus, wild buckwheat, sagebrush and chaparral of scrub oak, buckthorn and mountain mahogany. Trabuco and Hickey Creeks also meander through the park, flowing in winter and early spring, dry in summer and fall. O'Neill Regional Park is a fun location for hiking in Orange County. Several weeks back Ashley and I got the chance to hike at O'Neill Regional Park and we discovered this OC Park has some great hiking trails. Ashley and I had driven by this location many times on our way to go hike in other sections of the Cleveland National Forest and other hiking spots in Southern California. The Live Oak Trail in O'Neill Regional Park is is a beautiful trail that goes to a low summit in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains with sweeping views of Orange County.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Live Oak Trail in O'Neill Regional Park, if you are coming from interstate 5, exit at El Toro Rd and head toward the mountains. You are going to drive for probably 10 - 15 minutes, until you are closer to Saddleback Mountain. You are going to make a right onto Valley Vista Way. The road turns into Meadow Ridge Drive. Follow the road and make a left on Chisholm Trail Rd. Park at the end of the road at the trailhead. Parking is free, which is always a good price.

Description of Hike: This is a fun short day hike in Orange County. The mileage for the hike on Live Oak Trail in O'Neill Regional Park is a little over 3 miles roundtrip. The hike does have some elevation gain to it, at roughly 700 feet. The destination for this hike is one of the highest portions of O'Neil Regional Park, which offers hikers great views of the Saddleback Valley, Santiago Peak, as well as portions of the Cleveland National Forest. Most of this trail has very little shade on it so make sure to bring plenty of water, wear a hat, and use sunscreen if you are hiking on warmer days. At the top of the peak (Elevation 1,492 feet), there are optical sites which point out major landmarks in Orange County. Click Here for a map of the hiking trails O'Neill Regional Park. O'Neill Regional Park is open from 7am - Sunset everyday. Click Here for the O'Neill Regional Park brochure. There is also camping available at O'Neill Regional Park, for more information about the campgrounds at O'Neill Regional Park click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I both enjoyed this hike in O'Neill Regional Park as it had been a while since we were able to get out and hike. The beginning of the hike has some Coastal Live Oak trees which are always fun to walk through. However after that there is not much shade on the rest of this hike. While on this hike we took our time and enjoyed being out in nature, this is more of a hike to take your time on as opposed to rush to the peak. We explored a couple of side trails on this hike near the summit. Unfortunately, we did not see much wildlife while out on this hike, but both Ashley and I are sure O'Neill Regional Park is frequented by a lot of different types of animals.

The Live Oak Trail is a popular hiking trail in O'Neil Regional Park and we did see a number of people out hiking on this trail when both Ashley and I went hiking at this Orange County Park. Expect to see people while out on this trail, especially if you do this Orange County Hiking trail on a weekend. Close to the summit there are great views and there is a table/bench at the top which is a perfect location to eat lunch and take in the view. Both Ashley and I recommend this hike as it is close to most people in Orange County, but allows you to get that feel that you are deep in the wilderness. To learn more about the history on how O'Neill Regional Park came to exist, click Here.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 700ft. (Moderate), Distance: 3.2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 2 hours.


  1. We went out to this starting point yesterday but found out quickly that it is not a dog friendly trail (there is a sign just a couple of hundred yards in). Instead we followed the trail in the other direction which goes out toward El Toro and stayed on it going north alongside El Toro. Eventually we went through the tunnel under El Toro and went down the Aliso Creek Bike Trail, passed by the McFadden Historic House which is the Whiting Ranch office which has water for humans and dogs. Continued down the Aliso Creek trail and then eventually back tracked.

    Looking at the map today I see that the Live Oak Canyon Trail continues down toward the Upper Oso Reservoir. There was a gate near Meadowridge and Chisolm but it didn't appear to have a pedestrian cut through so we didn't even think of heading that way.

    Also noticed after the fact that on our way up that we were really close to Cook's Corner.

  2. my husband & I did this hike today (yes it was a bit hot today on this hike.....not a lot of shade so its probably best to do this hike on cooler days unless the heat is not a big deal for you ) it was easy to find - however the free parking Ashley & brian talked about is actually the end of a cul de sac on chisolm trail rd - at first we thought we were in the wrong area but then we figured we weren't.....theres actually a good amount of empty areas at the end of this cul de sac....also no restrooms FYI & no dogs..........
    ok so onto the hike....really enjoyed it !!!! theres only a little shade in the beginning of the hike & then it quickly goes away & its very open & no shade.....but the trails were good & easy to follow.....trails went from flat to small inclines to steeper inclines - but not so steep u cant do them - just enough to get a good work out :):) I felt there was a good balance of up & down..........this is a great work out hike.........the views were spectacular.......there were views all over throughout the hike.....super when we reached the top.....and there is plenty of benches at the top for relaxing & checking out the views :)
    as far as wildlife we saw a deer & a lizard & a few butterflies & dragonflies at the very was also a very quiet & peaceful looks like the trail was frequented by horseback riders & cyclists from the tracks we saw in the dirt & well other things we saw in the dirt LOL (oh those horses lol )
    anyway thanx to brian & Ashley for another fun day of hiking........ur site is always so helpful...thank you !!!!


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