Explore the most popular 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.





wild flowers

nature trips

trail running

mountain biking


kid friendly

no dogs

horseback riding


San Juan Capistrano, California Map
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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Beautiful wildflowers, green hillsides, water in the creek!

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, 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.

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.

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