Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange County, CA

ABCD Loop (Santiago Oaks Regional Park)

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  • Location: Near Anaheim Hills in northeast Orange County. From the 91 freeway, take the Weir Canyon exit and drive 0.7 miles south to Serrano.  Take a right on Serrano and drive 2 miles and take a left on Hidden Canyon.  Park at the corner of Overlook. Alternately, take the Imperial Highway (route 90) exit, head south (right if you are coming from the west, left if from the east), drive about a mile to Nohl Ranch Road, take a left and go to about 3 miles to the end of Nohl Ranch Road, take a left on Serrano and a right on Hidden Canyon.
  • Agency: Santiago Oaks Regional Park; Weir Canyon Wilderness Park
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 900 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Best season: September – June
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days)
  • Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some spots
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • More information: here; park map here
  • Rating: 5

Updated November 2018

Santiago Oaks Regional Park was hit hard by the 2017 Canyon 2 fire. Thankfully the area is recovering and while much of the park’s vegetation was lost, this loop, which utilizes several lightly traveled trails in the back of the park, is still enjoyable, traveling along ridges with panoramic views and through tight canyons. The name “ABCD” is derived from the trails the route uses – Anaheim Hills, Barham Ridge, Cactus, Coachwhip and Deer. The route described below offers a good workout that can be done in a few hours. If you are tight on time or the day is exceptionally warm, you can make a shorter but still enjoyable loop by simply going to the lookout point; on the other hand Santiago Oaks Regional Park’s large network of trails allows you to extend the hike if you feel so inclined.

From the Anaheim Hills trail head (also shared with the popular Weir Canyon loop), follow the fire road to a Y-junction. Bear right and head downhill; the left fork heads to Weir Canyon. Follow the road as it threads its way between Weir Canyon and the back sides of some houses, making a few ups and downs and crossing a service road before reaching the Deer Trail (0.7 mile from the start.) Here you have the first of several choices about how to complete the loop. The Deer Trail drops into the canyon and climbs to a view point, one mile from the junction, while the same route can also be reached in half a mile via the Anaheim Hills Trail, which soon merges with the Barham Ridge Trail. From the vista point, you can enjoy a nearly 360-degree view which includes the coast, the Santa Ana Mountains and on days of good visibility, San Bernardino Peak and San Gorgonio.

The next loop (1.9 miles total, with about 450 feet of elevation gain) consists of the lower end of the Barham Ridge Trail, the Cactus Trail and the Coachwhip Trail. It’s slightly easier to do this loop clockwise, as the Coachwhip Trail is more moderately graded, spreading out the climb over 1.1 miles. Head downhill on the Barham Ridge Trail for 0.4 mile to the Cactus Trail (an unsigned but clear junction). Turn right and follow the Cactus Trail as it drops into the canyon, briefly merging with the Bumble Bee Trail. Head right (north) and take a quick right on the Coachwhip Trail. Stay right as the Yucca Ridge Trail branches off. After crossing a footbridge, the Coachwhip Trail climbs a series of switchbacks to rejoin the Barham Ridge Trail just below the view point. From here, head back to the starting point either via the Deer Trail or the Barham Ridge and Anaheim Hills trails.

Barham Ridge Trail, Santiago Oaks Regional Park
Descending the Barham Ridge Trail from the view point
Coachwhip Trail, Santiago Oaks Regional Park
Footbrdige, Coachwhip Trail
Deer Trail, Santiago Oaks Regional Park
Looking back at the Deer Trail from the view point
Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange, CA
Dusk on the Coachwhip Trail

Text and photography copyright 2018 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.


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