Explore the most popular forest trails near San Juan Capistrano with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

mountain biking
13 days ago

It is a great trail but it’s definitely not for beginners. I’m a beginner so it was a terrible experience. I should’ve checked the difficulty first but I just trusted my husband. Get plenty of water if you’re planning to walk it. :)

1 month ago

This trail is awesome! I hiked it going down from Blue Jay Campground, and stayed on the northern sections which tended to be more shaded. The path is very easy to see and navigate by foot, and I could see a ton of mountain bike tracks in the more rutted areas. I made it all the way down to the hard turn in the clearings south of the Mary Thomas bridge before I turned around and headed back up since it was approaching sunset. I will say that it is much harder to go back up than come down, but not impossible. No climbing necessary. This was my first time ever on this trail, and had never heard of it before camping at Blue Jay, but now I want to go back and do the whole thing!

One thing I will critique though, is that the intersections in the trail are not very well marked. There are some white spray paint markings with arrows along the trail and at the intersection, but they're not in a very easy to understand format. So have your wits about you and make cairns or leave non-permanent markers to show you which way you came if you're doing a shuttle/in-n-out run.

3 months ago

Did the first section including the little loop, around 4 miles total. Beautiful - lots of nice views, interesting plants. Trail is well-worn and easy to follow - note the white double-sided arrows on the ground to keep following the trail when coming to an offshoot, most of which lead to a campground. TONS of lizards, lots of mountain bikers as well, but all friendly. Great time!

Awesome when you’re up in the mountains, but an awkward to and from walk.

Interesting trail that rides the ridge between the park and Coto. There really is not a loop anymore. the Oak Trail segment is now closed. There was hardly anyone on the trail on Saturday. A couple of runners, a biker, and a boy scout troop. We went about an hour without running into anyone. Once on the ridge trail, you are exposed in the sun with little shade.

This is all uphill. Nothing too crazy but if rate some areas moderate to difficult. First part of trail if you go early am is shaded. Rest of trail is sun exposed. Beautiful. Serenity. Very narrow. 1-2 foot wide Cliffside trail with many areas of Slippery sand/rock that drop off to ravine or cliff. Not good for me as I'm afraid of heights. I did push myself to go 6 miles up... Glad I did but won't be doing this trail again. Fear of heights and lack of people during the week for a solo woman hiker=no Bueno for this hot mama.

Easy warm up start, steep incline choices, beautiful views.

9 months ago

Hiked out of Blue Jay campground.

fav spot to take my dog

Monday, June 05, 2017

It was nice but I prefer my views to not be primarily neighborhoods. There's a nice ocean view at the top of Patriots trail where there's a flagpole and a mailbox with a notebook you can sign so that was fun. But a little too suburban for me.
Also, the map did NOT take us to the trailhead. Instead it took us to a blocked off fenced area that had no access. Instead we had to continue on El Novio (I think that's the name) and then turned left on via cerre rebal and found our way to the trail listed.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Gorgeous setting, smooth paths, great hills! Wildflowers in spring with sprawling ocean views. Really perfect!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Super fun! Did a few of the lookout points, ending with the 2nd of the Patriot Trail loops and the Flagpole point.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Beautiful trail! Our group made it to the flag pole on the Patriot Trail, turned around and backtracked so well could stay in the hills instead of walking through the neighborhoods. Took 2 hours. 6 miles

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Most of this trail is exposed so go early in the morning or during cooler seasons. Also part of the lower loop is closed due to deadfall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I could not find the Patriot Trail. Instead took the Cerro Rebal Trail to Via Cerro Rebal and back to LA Novia Ave. But this trail is beautiful and presents itself with some awesome ocean views.

cross country skiing
Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Monday, April 11, 2016

Initial ascent from Upper Hot Springs Road to Sugarloaf Peak, last part was a hidden bush scramble to the top but well worth it (even in the pouring rain).

mountain biking
Thursday, April 07, 2016

shuttled it and started at the top. first five miles is two-thirds uphill, and treacherous at times. Overall not recommended for beginners but superfun all around. mostly all downhill after Cocktail Rock, five mile point. Only 7 miles down to the parking area at the Lazy W Ranch. 12 miles total.

mountain biking
Saturday, April 02, 2016

The upper part above cocktail rock is super fun forest riding, below cocktail rock the trail is worn heavily, grooved due to heavy use with lots of switch backs.

on San Juan Trail

Monday, February 22, 2016

Beautiful view at Cocktail Rock ❤️

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Now I know why there weren't any recent checkins:(. This trail, while it has beautiful views and is a great workout with switchbacks, is primarily used for bikes. They were nice and no issues, but the condition of the trail is so deteriorated by the bikes that it is a chore to get up and down safely. It was like you were hiking a downward sloping river bed at times with a 6 inch wide trail that just sucked in your feet. We had fun and made it to the Cocktail Rocks, but my ankles and tendons are burning and touchy today. Just be careful, bring bug spray, sunscreen and plenty of water.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Love this trail , specially after a rain . So peaceful.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fun trail that did while camping on a weekend and had some great views with tall grass valleys. When we hit the end of trail my girlfriend asked if I thought we could see out camp site and sure enough we had a direct view of our favorite campsite with all of our gear (and the squires trying to steel our food). Will do this hike next time we camp here as I like camping here a lot

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm always confused that I can't find "Patriot Trail" anywhere - so I hope this is it. I *love* this hike. It's a butt-kicker (at least for me), but 360 views at the top. It was my first, and you know what they say - you always remember your first. :) Zero shade here, so a morning or early evening is good. Bring water! Most activity levels should be okay - kids and dogs are okay too. We brought our golden and our 3 and 9 year olds. Great hike!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Great workout. Easy, wide, clear trail. 400+ft elevation gain if you go from La Novia up to the flag. Nice coastal breezes, but no shade. Moderate parking; not recommended in wet weather for anything other than 4x4 high clearance unless you park on the blacktop. Watch for Snattlerakes in warmer weather.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

beautiful view, loved seeing the horse. quite a climb towrd the end but tolerable.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

seen a lot of mountain lion tracks loved walking this with my girl almost got caught in the dark had to chase the sun back.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Really great trail, but...the Mtn Bikers and water have created some serious erosion on the trail. It is like walking in a V-shaped gully for much of it. It is all uphill...until you decide to turn around and come down...then its all downhill...need a good set of poles to help navigate the gullies.Beautiful vistas. Loved the hike. Start early and watch out for Mtn Bikers.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Moderately tough hike on the way up but nothing too crazy. It will take you a couple hours a decent pace. Much easier on the way back down. I did spot fresh mountain lion tracks so just watch and listen for your surroundings. They are scared of people so just make lots of noise and make yourself look big if you spot one. Amazing views that are extremely worth it. Would recommend going on a rainy day for an amazing rainbow view from the top.

mountain biking
Sunday, September 29, 2013

This is the first trail I've ridden while being in Socal. I took my downhill bike here, not sure what to expect. I came in late afternoon around 4 and climbed/pushed for about an hour and got to about 7 miles before I started noticing the sun was about to hide behind the mountains so I had to start my ride back down. Lots of awesome scenery, a few scary washouts, and more switchbacks than I can remember. Absolutely love this trail. Next time I'm bringing my hardtail in the morning and getting all the way to the top. A few relentless technical sections and ruts the whole way down. Definitely going back

Load More