“This hike is a great 13-mile out-and-back up the Arroyo Trabuco Trail, from Oso Pkwy into O'Neill Regional Park.
— wesley lummis
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
See ocparks.com for O'Neill Regional Park hours of operation. The rest of the trail is technically part of O'Neill Regional Park, but there are no access restrictions and dozens of possible entry points.
This is a really nice hike paralleling Trabuco Creek, mostly on singletrack or a wide dirt road. There are surprisingly few people present even though this trail lies right between some densely populated areas. Depending on time of day, you can go for miles without seeing another person.
It is a beautiful area with wet creek crossing, lots of trees, dried creek beds, bridge underpasses, and mostly just a nice gentle, steady climb of only 100 ft. per mile. That makes this out-and-back nice since almost the entire way back is a nice, easy downhill.
Need to Know
Park for free at Oak Tree Park, located off Antonio Pkwy and Oak Tree, just north of Oso Pkwy.
At the O'Neill Park entry point, follow the paved drive straight instead of turning left, and find a drinking fountain next to the restrooms. This is the only water source on the whole route, so make sure you are carrying what you need for hydration to complete about 5.5 miles at a stretch.
From Oak Tree Park, cross over Antonio Pkwy on foot and head north along the sidewalk. Refer to the map above or use the Hiking Project mobile app
, and take the second left turn off the sidewalk and onto Tijeras Spur Trail
. The paved path will curve to the right, and the Tijeras Creek Trail
will be on the left a little way down, at the O'Neill Regional Park sign. Go down the main path and stay left at the bottom.
About a half mile in, cross over Trabuco Creek and pick up the Arroyo Trabuco Trail
on the other side. Turn right onto the Arroyo Trabuco Trail
, and stay on this for about 5 miles until you reach O'Neill Regional Park. When you enter the park, turn left at the paved drive and head up to the Live Oak Trail
Continue along Live Oak Trail
, following signs to stay on it, and continue climbing until your GPS says 6.55 miles. If you turn around now, you'll have completed 13 miles by the time you return to your vehicle. But why not just continue to the top of the hill? It's only about a half mile extra, and there's a nice bench to sit on and rest, and beautiful 360-degree views of the surrounding foothills and cities that makes the extra climb worthwhile.
Flora & Fauna
Lots of wildlife here including rabbits, deer, snakes, coyotes, tarantulas, owls, and giant spiders who build their webs at face level right across the trail. There have been mountain lion sightings in the past, so stay wary.