Ladera Ranch Ridge
- Location: Ladera Ranch, south Orange County. There are several access points. As described here, the trail starts from the dog park on the corner of O’Neill and Cecil Pasture. To get there, take I-5 to Crown Valley Parkway. Go east for 1.6 miles and turn right on Cecil Pasture. Follow Cecil Pasture to the end and park at the dog park.
- Agency: Orange County Parks & Recreation; City of Ladera Ranch
- Distance: 5.2 miles (round trip from Wagsdale Park to the third overlook)
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: San Juan Capistrano
- Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat; hiking poles
- More information: here; Everytrail report here; area trail map here
- Rating: 5
This fun hike travels along a ridge in south Orange County, with a lot of ups and downs in both directions. The views of Old Saddleback and the Santa Anas are great, and while the hike never really escapes the sights or sounds of the nearby suburbs, it’s still a nice, convenient little escape. Unfortunately, there’s no shade, so plan accordingly, especially if the day is warm.
There are several possible routes; you can make a loop using any number of trails in the City of Ladera Ranch’s network. The segment of the trail described here – a 2.5 mile stretch ending at a scenic overlook – is a good workout.
From Wagsdale Park, cross O’Neill and continue along Cecil Pasture. Almost immediately, a dirt spur to the left takes you up to the Blufftop Trail, the main route. Turn left and continue your ascent, passing by some power lines. Soon you get to a spur leading to the first overlook.
Continuing along the ridge, you make a series of big ascents and descents. At almost two miles, you come to the second overlook, where the views of Old Saddleback are particularly good. At 2.4 miles, you come to a split, where you’ll head right (left takes you downhill into the residential neighborhood).
One last descent and ascent brings you to the third overlook, the turnaround point for this hike. Here you can sit at a picnic table and enjoy the views before heading back.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.