O’Neill Regional Park in Trabuco Canyon has a distinctly wilderness feel with options for hiking and camping. I camped there when I was a college student long ago. Rancho Santa Margarita sure cozied up next to it, huh? It’s nestled back up in the foothills at the intersection of Live Oak and Trabuco Canyon roads. This is a beautiful time of year to go with the green hills and blue skies.
Directions to O’Neill Regional Park:
- Option #1: Drive up El Toro Road and take a right before Cook’s Corner (the oldest roadhouse in Orange County) onto Live Oak Canyon. O’Neill is three miles up on the right. If you hit downtown Trabuco Canyon near the elementary school, then you’ve gone too far.
- Option #2: Take Santa Margarita Parkway turning left when it dead ends into Plano Trabuco Road. Plano Trabuco Road turns into Trabuco Canyon Road. Turn left into park entrance.
- Address: 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon. MAP to O’Neill Regional Park in Trabuco Canyon
Recommended by: Sharlene of Trekaroo.com
- Sharlene says: “It had a cute playground, but makes you feel you were someplace far away. The tot trail is short but fun.”
- I loved the original educational panels teaching California natural history (rattlesnakes, hawks, Vaqueros, map of Orange County ranches).
- Great zip track like the one at Pioneer Park.
- Nature Center open on weekends.
- Outdoor amphitheater, complete with campfire pit, behind Nature Center.
- Freedom to roam and explore a wilderness area. Complete calm and peace only found in natural areas like this one.
- Sharlene says: “I’m sure there were critters around.” And I would definitely agree. Talk to the park rangers at the entrance before heading out to play. However, the playground is very near the busiest part of the park.
- No baby swings
- Play area more suited to older children (not just one connected structure – gaps and monkey bars)
- Must pay for parking. I recommend getting an annual parking pass.
- Fee for parking in Oak Creek lot near park entrance
- Sand play surface and recycled rubber under swings
- Restrooms across parking lot
- Drinking fountains near restrooms and near play area
- Shade from gorgeous oaks surrounding play area
- Easy to view kids as they play
- Official OC Parks page for O’Neill
- Sharlene’s coverage on Double the Adventure
Originally published in June 2009.