Serrano Creek Park (Lake Forest)
- Location: 25101 Serrano Road, Lake Forest. From I-5, take the Lake Forest Drive exit. Head northeast (right if you’re coming from the south, left if from the north) and go 2.2 miles to Serrano Road. Turn left and go 0.2 miles, and the park is on the right.
- Agency: City of Lake Forest
- Distance: 2.1 miles
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: El Toro
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 3
This fun neighborhood hike is great for people who want to get out into nature but may be a little intimidated by longer trails. Even veteran hikers who live in the area will find it to be an easy and convenient getaway into nature, and the variety of scenery is pretty impressive for a small park in the middle of suburbia.
There are several trails, both paved and dirt, that run through the park. The route described here may seem a little bit convoluted, but one doesn’t have to follow it exactly to enjoy the park. Wherever you are, you’re likely to be close to one of the main roads, so you really don’t have to worry about getting lost.
From Serrano Road, head down into the park and cross through the playground area. On the opposite side of the park, look for a trail heading down toward the creek. Carefully descend (the banks are washed out, so take extra care, especially if you’re hiking with little kids.) You cross the creek and pick up a slightly obscure trail that heads up toward a fire road, passing along the back side of some houses. Head left and almost immediately look for another trail leading back down toward the creek. After making the second creek crossing, you arrive at one of the main trails through the park. Instead of walking on the paved path, you can head right on a dirt trail and follow it for a while. Shortly after it joins the main path, it branches off again.
After once more rejoining the paved path, the trail comes to a split. Head right, following the path of the creek, and once again go onto dirt when the paved road makes a U-turn. After about a mile, you arrive at Bake Parkway. Turn around and follow the bike path on the opposite side of the creek. Shortly, just as you pass a pathway leading to residential Camino Trebol on the left, look for a footpath heading back into the creek. You cross the creek and rejoin the path, heading left back toward the park entrance.
Here you can trace your exact route back, but for a little more variety, head uphill at the juncture (by the big oak tree with its limbs touching the ground.) The paved path meets a T-junction, where a dirt path heads through a beautiful grove of eucalyptus trees. This wooded trail crosses a few other paved paths before meeting up with one of the main walkways. Bear right and follow the walkway back to the playground area.
Regardless of which route you take at Serrano Creek Park, it’s sure to be a fun and enjoyable trip, an easy way to escape inland Orange County’s heat and enjoy some nature, peace and quiet in a place where it would seem hard to find.
Text and photography copyright 2011 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.