Oso Creek Trail runs along Oso Creek below Oso Viejo Park playground in Mission Viejo. Our first visit to the trail was magical. We arrived late on a cool Sunday evening. No one was at the playground – so we all had a good play and then let the kids lead us down the hill.
Directions to Oso Creek Trail: From the 5 Freeway, take the La Paz exit and head east past Marguerite Parkway. Make a left on Veterans Way. (Address: 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo) MAP to Oso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo
- Norman P. Murray Community Center is lovely. An absolutely unique “active intergenerational center.” The playground resides in its backyard. I love the many relaxing and renewing places to sit on the grounds.
- You can make this nature walk as short or long as you want. We’ve never used the trail the same way twice.
Shorter Walk for Younger Kids:
- As you are facing the playground, the trail is to your left past the baseball diamonds. It winds its way down the hill to the pathway above the creek. We walked to our left. There’s a nice grassy area and mosaic columns by local artists and community members.
- Cross the bridge to see the butterfly garden. Turn right (heading up the hill) and watch the creek for signs of wildlife. It was alive with birds and bunnies when we were there. In fact, we even spotted a mommy duck and about 7 ducklings.
- You’ll come to a point where the trail turns into dirt and then bark. That’s where you’ll discover the maze. Plan to stay a while. It never gets boring for the kids.
Longer Loop for Older Kids:
- Josh at CaliforniaThroughMyLens.com took the longer version of this hike that goes up from the park and then around the other side of the creek. Not necessarily for little ones, but my older school-age kids love this walk. Walking the paved part of the Oso Creek Trail and Jeronimo Open Space trail is perfect for jogger strollers — but half of this loop is on a dirt path which can be narrow and a little steep for strollers. So, I would recommend sticking to the paved paths with your strollers. Here’s the route that we take to go the longer loop . . .
Walk on the sidewalk, past the Senior Center towards the “Village Green” which has wide open fields and outdoor fitness equipment (not for kids under 14).
You’ll also pass by mosaic artwork and fountains.
When you come to the end of the sidewalk, there is a short flight of stairs. Take it down to the paved trail and go across the bridge. Keep bearing to your left. You’ll come upon a tunnel and this is where you’ll make your U-turn back towards the park for your loop. In the woodland area, the trail switches over to dirt.
There are oaks, sycamores, and it’s super peaceful back here. My kids like to call it a “rollercoaster” trail because of the ups and downs. My sister and I had a little trouble navigating it one day when we were walking without the kids — because it was a little muddy and we kept sliding back down the uphill!
There are a few other surprises on the trail, but I’ll leave them to you to find (don’t want to give it ALL away!). You’ll eventually get back to the maze and just past that the trail is paved once again. You’ll hang a left and go back over the bridge to the mosaic columns and up the hill to your left back to the playground.
- There are coyote warning signs and we saw evidence of a small animal that became a coyote meal. However, unless you have a small dog there is no reason to be concerned. Coyotes are small and skittish – usually out in the early morning and late evening hours.
- Make sure you bring water and snacks.
- No restrooms on the trail
- Parking at the Norman P. Murray Community Center
- Mostly paved path with a big section of dirt path on the longer loop
- Restrooms up near the community center
- Shade trees along the path – but it gets hot up here in the summer
- Read more about the Oso Viejo Community Park playground
- Coyote info for kids on National Geographic
- California Department of Fish and Game Coyote Brochure
- Official City of Mission Viejo website and walking trails page with Oso Creek Trail video
- Nearest public library: Mission Viejo Public Library
Originally posted in April 2009.