Explore the most popular horseback riding 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.

hiking
12 days 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.

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.

hiking
2 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.

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

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked out of Blue Jay campground.

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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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

Great

hiking
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

hiking
Monday, February 22, 2016

Beautiful view at Cocktail Rock ❤️

hiking
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.

hiking
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

hiking
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!

hiking
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.

camping
Sunday, May 18, 2014

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

camping
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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

hiking
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

These are many trails that loop around within "Caspers Wilderness Park" off the Ortega HWY. Google their website for a map of all these trails (or see link below). All are located within the campground, I think day use access is free. Great hiking, lots of horses and some mountain biking.

hiking
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This trails starts of on the fairly level "Oak Trail" winding through oak groves, then quickly ascends to the top of the West Ridge, meeting up with the "West Ridge Trail" (which is essentially a utility access road).. Also, it's worth mentioning that these trails are located in the "Caspers Wilderness Park" campground, off the Ortega HWY.

mountain biking
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Great ride honestly it's my favorite all around trail. hard going up, amazing coming down. Would recommend full face/goggles because brush flows onto trail and you get smacked a lot. I'm an avid rider. ALMOST a DH trail. Still would be great with DH if you cheat and drive to the top.

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