If you want a pleasant place to walk, hike, or ride your bike in Ladera Ranch, you don’t have to go far. Quite possibly, you only need to go as far as your front door! Our city is known for its calm tree-lined neighborhoods, beautiful open spaces, and picturesque lakes and streams.
Still, even the most pleasant of settings can get old after a while. If you’re looking for a new place near home to explore on your next outdoor excursion, try one of these!
Oso Creek Trail
Founded in 1997 and maintained by a small army of community volunteers, the Oso Creek Trail features just over five miles of walking paths amid both stunning natural beauty and some out-of-the-ordinary artistic touches—water fountains, a butterfly garden, a plant maze, and more.
Most of the trails are fairly flat and accessible to beginners, and pets are very welcome. The adjacent Oso Viejo Community Park also offers playgrounds, picnic spots, a senior center, exercise equipment, and restrooms.
Lake Ladera Ranch
Take a lap around the beautiful lake! Although much of the lakefront itself is private property, you can catch glorious glimpses from the main roads—particularly Alicia Parkway and Olympiad Road. Everything is paved, and although there are a few short climbs, it’s very easy and accessible for walkers of all skill levels.
Along the way, you’ll have access to great dining and shopping at Market on the Lake (Vista Del Lago just off Marguerite Parkway), and all kinds of outdoor family activities at Florence Joyner Olympiad Park, which follows along the entire Olympiad Road stretch.
One other perk for serious runners? The full loop is just a smidge over 3 miles—or in other words, almost exactly the same distance as a 5k. So it’s a great place to train and establish a good pace and rhythm for your next race!
Arroyo Trabuco Trail
Overall, this 16-mile out-and-back is a lot more challenging than Oso Creek—especially as you make your way northward—but has plenty of flatter spots for beginners, too.
It definitely has a “wilderness” feel—there’s not a lot in the way of pavement manmade accommodations, and if you’re lucky you might spot a deer or two. Although the trail is open year round, we recommend it only during cooler seasons or times of day, since there isn’t much tree cover for shade.
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park (and Red Rock Canyon)
This stunning wilderness park covers approximately 2,500 acres and around 17 total miles of interconnected trails through canyons, grassland, and rolling hills. Many of the trails are open not only to walkers and hikers, but also bicyclists and even equestrians.
The main attraction is the Red Rock Canyon trail, a breathtaking hike through gorgeous rock formations that will make you think you’ve somehow teleported to Arizona or Utah. Better yet, Red Rock is relatively accessible for beginners and families, so the best views aren’t restricted to the most accomplished outdoor adventurers.
That said, there are plenty of tougher hikes here too for those looking for challenge, including the demanding Billy Goat Trail, Dreaded Hill Road, and Mustard Road. Be sure to follow your map carefully so you don’t bite off more than you can chew!
Alta Laguna Park
This park is also known as “Top of the World,” and for good reason. The 1,000-foot elevation provides no shortage spectacular views—one a really clear day, you can see most of the county.
Alta Laguna Park also just happens to be one of the two main entry points to Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, a 30-mile system of interconnected (and well marked) pathways that will take you past caves, natural springs, mountain streams, glorious vistas, exposed fossil beds, and more.
(The other official entry is on Awma Road; there are other access points to various trails, but no others with official parking—so start there at your own risk.)
Although the terrain is generally rugged, not all the trails are difficult ones. As always, consult the map and stay alert!
The truth is, while there’s a nearly limitless supply of gorgeous vistas, almighty mountains, and picturesque trails to explore throughout Orange County and Southern California, the most important thing of all is that you get out and go!
Even the most familiar, well-worn paths can bring you joy, peace, and pleasure. And you might well be surprised at what you find when you decide to explore the area surrounding your own neighborhood!
So hit the trail, wherever that trail may be! Should you need any help along the way, give us a call. We specialize in helping runners of all ages and ability levels keep their feet and ankles in top shape. To schedule, pick up the phone and dial (949) 364-9255 today.