This is a great family friendly 3.4-mile loop hike that utilizes almost all of the trails in Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park.
From the parking area, head north on Wagon Wheel Trail
which parallels Oso Parkway. At the junction with Pheasant Run Trail
, take a left to head back south; this trail is popular among joggers. Join Mule Deer Trail
by turning right to head northwest; this trail passes oaks and cactus patches, utilizes boardwalks and climbs into coastal sage environments.
At 1.2 miles, take a right to continue ascending up to Skink Vista Point via Vista Ridge Trail
. At the point, you can see the crest of the Santa Ana Mountains. Backtrack to the junction and take a right onto Oak Canyon Trail
to head south. Sometimes you'll see wildlife at an old cattle pond on the east side of the trail.
Turn right onto Horned Toad Trail
and follow it out the the Horned Toad Vista Point overlooking Orange County. Continue on the trail, turning right to continue following Oak Canyon Trail
. At the next junction, take a right onto Sycamore Loop Trail
through an old sycamore grove. Right again onto Oak Canyon Trail
as it turns north and leads back to the trailhead.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store
Great sycamore groves, oak trees and coastal scrub environments are encountered on this hike. A butterfly garden near the park office is a great place to visit in the spring and summer months.
The park, originally called Wagon Wheel Park, was acquired in 1983 by Orange County. In 1994, it was renamed in honor of a former Orange County supervisor for his conservation efforts.