Explore the most popular hiking 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
2 months 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. :)

3 months 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.

No public parking, hard to find, only accessible if you are a resident of the gated community

Mainly uphill, no shade, pretty views. Saw a deer. Nice that you can do a loop, went back Eastern flats but no shade, today the road would have been better for shade. Lots of trails in this general location $3 to get in.

5 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!

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.

Well marked trail and great views! I took my dog and really enjoyed it. My only complaint is the courtesy of the cyclists on this trail. It seemed like every five minutes I have to find a spot to wait off the trail for a herd of bikers to pass. It took away from the overall experience, but I’m sure during the week this trail would be deserted.

Nice trail, easy to navigate. If you are hiking, watch out for the bicyclists.

nice short hike. great signs and well maintained trail. definitely a moderate not a hard hike

11 months ago

Hiked out of Blue Jay campground.

The trail stats by the Trabuco Golf Club which is the only nice part of the trail. Otherwise is boring with no shade.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

fav spot to take my dog

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hiked this loop trail in pleasant 85F weather on a Monday afternoon. As a result, I didn't encounter another soul which was a pleasant surprise. The trail is rated by AllTrails as difficult but I think moderate is more accurate. There is a fairly steep climb on Oso Trail but not too difficult. You are rewarded with some nice views over the park from up there, especially back toward Santiago and Modjeska peaks in the distance.

Be sure to bring enough water/sunscreen and wear a hat. You are exposed to the sun for significant portions of this hike. There are a few places with loose rocks and/or sand where footing can be tricky. Hiking boots are recommended. Overall, this was a very pleasant hike where you can work up a sweat and get your heart beating a bit.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Park in the first day use lot you come across on your right side. Cost is $5 to enter the park. The trail map is pretty handy. Plenty of butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, and lizards on this hike. Right now the yucca blooms are impressive.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Beautiful wildflowers, green hillsides, water in the creek!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

This trail was a tough and beautiful climb. I would not recommend taking San Juan Creek trail back. San Juan Creek trail is next to the highway, so it is very noisy.

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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Really tough climb, but well worth it for the amazing views from the top. The climb once at the Oso trail is pretty steep. Gotta be in good shape to complete this hike.

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

Not my favorite hike, but it was really pretty. Very narrow trail with gazillions of foxtails. But, it's pretty good for beginners - nice graded trail, great views at the top. I suggest going early as there are very few places to sit and very little shade. Always bring water!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Not the most exciting trail, but it *is* beautiful. There is a large grass meadow at the beginning of the hike. You'll share the trail with horses. Lots of bees pollinating flowers - didn't get stung, but maybe not the best trail for those allergic. The climb is moderate and short. Lots of patches of dappled light so watch for snakes. Bathrooms, water and good parking at the trail head.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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

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