By Mary Webb
Arroyo Trabuco trail, located near Mission Viejo, California, is a user-friendly path for hiking, mountain bike riding, horse-back trotting; or, after a hard day at the office, taking a brisk walk in the fresh air. With several miles of relatively flat ground, the Arroyo Trabuco trail, roughly six miles, will take you from Oso Parkway, through O’Neill Park, up towards Trabuco Canyon.
This is a good trail for beginners, hikers and mountain bike riders alike. With the exception of a few heavily graveled areas and intermittent Trabuco Creek stream crossings, the riparian trail isn’t too technical. Attention hikers, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes, the mix of wet stone and dirt can make for a slippery slope on winter wanderings. Also, poison oak grows near and around the Trabuco Creek, another good reason to keep your legs and lower limbs well-covered.
At the time of this writing, California is experiencing a drought, so the Southern California creeks are relatively dry. I would take extra caution in wet weather conditions along some of the flatter-streamed crossing areas, it appears quite a bit of water may gather here, making it more difficult to cross.
Accessible year-round, unless extreme weather conditions dictate otherwise, the trail is frequented by dog owners who leash up their pups and head out to stroll amongst sycamores and oaks. This is a popular trail, especially early evening as several suburbs are situated mid trail; allowing quick access for nature-starved dwellers.
Kids enjoy walking the Arroyo Trabuco trail, but keep a good eye on your brood. There is plenty of cactus around and many rocks, which may be too irresistible not to throw.
Trailhead: From Interstate 5, get off at El Toro Road. Head north on El Toro to the point where the road forks at Cook’s Corner. Take the right fork (Live Oak Canyon Road) to O’Neill Park. Pay your entrance fee and proceed to the Nature Center Parking Lot which is to the right. From the Nature Center, cut across the playground area to Arroyo Trabuco (Trabuco Creek). Cross the creek and look for the narrow trail in the woodlands on the south bank.
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