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Riley Wilderness Park in Coto de Caza

Riley Wilderness Park in Coto de Caza

My family and I 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


  • The open space at this 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.

Be Aware:

  • It can be 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 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

Parks nearby Riley Wilderness Park:

Originally published in June 2009.

Family Photography: from Southern California to their new Texas Home | The Pradhan Studios Family Photography

Thursday 21st of August 2014

[…] Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon. With big, beautiful rolling hills of native grass that glow like a golden sea as the sun sets behind the western side does have the reminiscence of a Texas ranch. Gnarled trees dot the wide landscape, and provide the much needed canopy of shade in a dry creek-bed. […]

Michele-Play Parks

Wednesday 17th of June 2009

My favorites are always ones with ocean views - so you can check the categories on the left and choose from "with ocean view" for a good selection. You are on the right track with Laguna Beach.


Wednesday 17th of June 2009

Looks awesome! Hey Michele - what would be your number one pick for most scenic park in OC? Looking for a fun park to take a family picnic this weekend for Father's Day. I was thinking of Bluebird Park in Laguna? Any others stand out???

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