My family and I recently explored Riley Wilderness Park near the entrance to Coto de Caza at the east end of Oso Parkway. We didn’t know we’d find such a peaceful spot. The wind whipped through our hair and the dry grass rustled as we hiked the ridge viewing the surrounding mountains. I liked visiting on a June gloom day. The clouds were breaking up in the afternoon and it was cool enough to be enjoyable.
Directions to Riley Wilderness Park: Exit Interstate 5 at Oso Parkway and head east following the signs to Riley Wilderness Park. Don’t miss the right turn (before the Wagon Wheel entrance sign) to enter the park. It’s a short drive on a dirt road to the parking area on your left. There are signs posted warning the park can be closed for up to three days after a rain – you’ll discover the reason as you drive over a big dip/creekbed. [Address: 30952 Oso Parkway, Coto de Caza] MAP TO RILEY WILDERNESS PARK
- Riley Wilderness Park provides easy hiking trails for kids
- Beautiful butterfly garden with kid-friendly exhibits (bridges to climb over, an artificial tree stump to climb in, a fountain visited by ravens, bunnies jumping through the underbrush).
- Small, but educational visitor center filled with activities for kids. Lots of items for touching and close examination.
- I’m still amazed at the projects scouts created for the enjoyment of all.
- Super nice rangers who sent us on our way with maps and information.
- I’m guessing it’s SUPER hot here in the summer (still, there’s a nice shady grove of oaks, shade at the visitor center, and shade along some parts of the trails)
- Definitely a wildlife setting. Be aware. Talk to the rangers about precautions at the given time and day you visit.
- Bring water and basic first aid out on the trails.
- Parking in a dirt parking lot. I highly recommend getting an OCParks parking pass (see OCParks.com fees) or pay $3-$5 at the yellow automated kiosk
- Portable toilets in the parking lot
- Drinking fountain in butterfly garden and near parking lot
- Shade from sycamores and oaks
- Official Riley Wilderness Park website by OCParks.com