Trabuco Canyon Trail

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Over the last weekend we completed our latest dog friendly hike.  This was, by far, the most scenic and secluded trail that we have hiked so far and it was located off of Trabuco Creek Road in Trabuco Canyon, CA.  There are a few different trails here, but we chose a decent 5.4 mile out and back trail called Trabuco Canyon Trail.  Now, before we get to the actual hike, there are a few things you need to know to prepare for this hike.

The first, and most important, is that you need to purchase an Adventure Pass parking permit which needs to be displayed on any car entering the dirt road area.  You can get these Adventure Passes at most sporting goods shops like Big 5 or Dick’s.   You can either purchase a single day pass for $5, or opt for the yearly pass for $30.  We ended up going to our local Big 5 and picking the day pass.   If I knew how much I was going to like the area, I probably would have purchased the yearly pass upfront. The daily pass is very simple to use, like a lottery scratcher ticket, you just scratch off the month and date that you are hiking and then just leave it visible  in your car.  This ability to chose which day the pass will be used will allow you to pick the pass up a few days before the hike, which will give you one less thing to do on the actual day of the hike. The second thing you need to be prepare for before taking this hike is the 3 miles of dirt road that is full of pot holes, and rocks that you will need to travel on to get to the trailhead.  I highly recommend a SUV or a truck for this road, but 4 wheel drive is not a requirement and we managed just fine in Kelly’s Mercury Mariner SUV.

So back to the actual trip.  It took us approximately 35 minutes to get to the end of the paved road from our apartment in Fountain Valley.  At the end of the paved road, there is a small dirt parking lot that you can park in if you, and a couple friends, all want to carpool once you get to the dirt road.  This will save you some money on having to buy multiple adventure passed for each car.


Once you hit the dirt road, you will travel a little over 3 miles before you get to the trailhead.  There are a few parking areas available as you are driving down the road.  The correct parking lot will be located right after you pass the Trabuco Canyon volunteer fire station.  Make sure you put your parking pass up before leaving the car.  From the parking lot, the trailhead will be on the right hand side, here is a picture of the trailhead entrance:

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The first section of the trail will be on a gravel and dirt road.  Once you reach the end of this road, you will finally start getting onto actual hiking trails.


As you start the hike the first major point of interest will be an old rusted car that was abandoned her a long time ago.  We stopped to check it out and take some pictures…

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After a few minutes at this site we continued on.  The second point of interest was shortly after the rusted car on your left hand side.  You will know you have found it when you see bars on the side of the mountain covering an entrance to an abandoned mine.  It isn’t that impressive because you cant really see much but still something worth investigating.


The rest of the hike out was full of tree groves, meadows, and everything in-between.   This area is very secluded and I never heard a sound from the city life the entire hike.  If you are looking for some seclusion and peace and quite this is a prefect hike for you.  This hike consists of very flat terrain so it is great for beginners.  We reached our turn back point where the trail intersects another trail and you are forced to go either left or right.   If you are really looking for a challenge, you could continue on the new trail which can take you an additional 5-20 miles. We figured we would save those hikes for a day when we were more prepared.  At the turn around point, we took a break to take in the scenery and to give the dogs some water before we started the hike back.

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As you can see this is by fair the most scenic and secluded hike that I have reviews in the OC area so far.  You can bet that I will be back out here very soon starting on a different trail.  Overall, this hike was scenic, easy, and family friendly.  The only two cautions I have for you about this area are as follows:

1) There have been sighting of rattlesnakes in this area year round, especially at dawn and dusk so be cautious of where you, and your dog, are sniffing around.

2) Poison oak has been found in this area.  Please keep your dogs on a leash so that you can keep them, and yourself, safe and itch free.

Other than that, I highly recommend this hike for anyone looking to experience the outdoors in their own backyard.  Here are a few more pictures from the hike, enjoy!

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