Santiago Creek / Bobcat Meadow (dayhike)

Trip Date: 8/7/2016

Location: Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Permit/Pass: $3 per vehicle entry Monday - Friday; $5 Saturday - Sunday

Trail maps: OCParks

Directions: From the toll road CA Highway 241 in North Tustin take the East Santiago Canyon Road exit and head northwest to a right turn on Jamboree Rd. After turning onto Jamboree prepare for an immediate left turn onto the resumption of East Santiago Canyon Rd. Go two miles to a right turn on North Windes Dr. Follow N. Windes to the entrance kiosk for Santiago Oaks RP. After passing through the kiosk follow the road to the Visitor Center parking area. Then walk up the sidewalk toward the Visitor Center but turn left to find the trailhead for the Historic Dam Trail. 

Synopsis: This is a sort of small-scale tour of Santiago Oaks park. It traverses quite a few trails, hits a couple of landmarks, and gives a good overview of the lower reaches of the park. There is plenty of shade in the beginning and ending parts of the hike, and very little elevation gain.

Trail sequence: Windes Trail / Historic Dam Trail / Santiago Creek Trail / Pony Trail / Santiago Creek / Bobcat Meadow Trail / Oak Trail / Rinker Grove Trail / Sour Grass Trail / Rinker Grove / Towhee Trail / Arizona Crossing Trail / Ladybug Trail / Santiago Creek / Windes

Type: Loop

Distance: 1.7 miles

Elevation: Min. - 411', Max. - 498'


Rating: Easy (factors: heat, trail identification)

Notes: Even if you don't replicate this guide exactly it will be difficult to get too far off-track. There are quite a few trails, they're mostly short, and the creek is always somewhat close to offer a heading for a return to the parking area.

Track: Santiago Creek / Bobcat Meadow - Santiago Oaks RP: Everytrail, GaiaGPS

Turn by Turn:

  -- Head southeast on the Historic Dam Trail. When you come to the dam area, the trail will make a hairpin turn and then climb up to the main Santiago Creek trail. Turn right (southeast) on Santiago Creek.

  -- Follow Santiago Creek, passing the junction with the Oak Trail on the left, to another junction with the Pony Trail. Turn right (south) on Pony Trail.

  -- Pony Trail continues south-southeast as it works its way to the perimeter of the park. From here it crosses a parking lot (look for the continuation trailhead on the east side of the lot), fords a creek (the water shouldn't be a problem) then circles back into the park. Eventually you reach the Bobcat Meadow Trail. Turn right (north) here and follow Bobcat Meadow around the meadow to a connection with Santiago Creek Trail once again.

  -- Continue straight on Santiago Creek to another junction. Continue straight again here onto Grove Trail and follow it to the Oak Trail, where you'll make another right turn and walk a few yards north to pick up Grove Trail once more. Turn left (west) onto Grove Trail.

  -- In a few hundred yards you'll need to make another right (northeast) turn onto Sour Grass Trail, then take the first left (northwest) onto Rinker Trail.

  -- Continue northwest on Rinker Trail to a dead-end at Towhee Trail. Turn right (northeast) and walk a few yards to a left (north) turn onto Arizona Crossing Trail.

  -- Follow Arizona Crossing Trail a short distance, passing Wilderness Trail on your right, 'til you cross a small cement grate that allow flow for a small creek, then a brief rise to a pavilion at the junction with Ladybug Trail.

  -- Turn left (south) on Ladybug Trail and follow it down to a connection with Santiago Creek once again, which takes you to a junction with Windes Trail and a return to your car.