Difficulty G Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Cellular Service General information: Hikes with free parking Orange County - Santa Ana Mountains & Foothills Rating: 4-6 Season: All year Season: Late Winter/Spring

South Arroyo Trabuco Trail (Avery Parkway to Crown Valley)


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Wildflowers on the South Arroyo Trabuco Trail, Mission Viejo
Wildflowers on the South Arroyo Trabuco Trail, Mission Viejo
Cat tails on the Arroyo Trabuco Trail
Cat tails on the Arroyo Trabuco Trail

South Arroyo Trabuco Trail (Avery Parkway to Crown Valley)

        • Location: End of Avery Parkway in Mission Viejo.  From I-5, take the Avery Parkway exit.  Head southeast (left if you’re coming from the north; right if from San Diego) and go 0.7 miles to the end of the road, just before the golf course.  Turn right and park in the small lot.
        • Agency: Orange County Parks & Recreation
        • Distance: 3.6 miles
        • Elevation gain: 100 feet
        • Difficulty Rating: G
        • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
        • Best season:  Year round (hot during the summer)
        • USGS topo map: San Juan Capistrano
        • Recommended gear: sun hat
        • More information:  Trip report here; Everytrail report here
        • Rating: 5
0:00 - Beginning of the hike at the end of Avery Parkway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)
0:00 – Beginning of the hike at the end of Avery Parkway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This hike starts by a golf course and ends at a busy overpass, but in between, it achieves a pleasantly isolated feel.  Power lines run overhead and the nearby houses are never really out of sight, but overall, it’s a surprisingly quiet escape from the nearby suburbs of south Orange County.  This segment of the Mountains to Sea trail is nearly level, making it a perfect place for a stroll after work (or during lunch), and a nice introduction to the outdoors.  Even veteran hikers will appreciate the nice views of Old Saddleback and the variety of vegetation.

0:02 - Continuation of the trail across the end of Avery Parkway (times are approximate)
0:02 – Continuation of the trail across the end of Avery Parkway (times are approximate)

From the parking area, follow the trail across the end of Avery Parkway, by the entrance to the golf course. It continues north, following the golf course, with nice views of the Santa Ana Mountains. At 2/3 of a mile, bear left at a split and continue north.

0:12 - View of Old Saddleback
0:12 – View of Old Saddleback

The trail gets narrower, passing by some tall sycamores, dipping in and out of some wetlands. Sharp-eyed hikers might recognize the shade structures of the Ladera Ridge Trail, perched on the rolling hills to the east.

0:15 - Bear left at the fork
0:15 – Bear left at the fork

At 1.5 miles, you get a glimpse of the Crown Valley Parkway overpass. The trail then enters another wetland, this one filled with trees, blocking out virtually all signs and sights of civilization.  Upon leaving the wetlands, the trail reaches a concrete walkway at 1.8 miles, the turnaround point.  Hikers who want a longer trip can continue north, eventually reaching O’Neill Regional Park.

0:40 - Through the wetlands
0:40 – Through the wetlands

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

0:45 - Turnaround point at the Crown Valley Parkway overpass
0:45 – Turnaround point at the Crown Valley Parkway overpass
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2 comments

    1. Actually that was Trabuco Canyon, which is up in the Cleveland National Forest (also in South O.C. but farther inland.) The Arroyo Trabuco Trail is more of a suburban hike, and navigation is much easier, and civilization is never far away, so hikers who are worried about getting lost shouldn’t let that stop them from visiting. It’s certainly good that those kids were found!

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