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Riley Wilderness Park in Coto de Caza

Riley Wilderness Park in Coto de Caza

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

Highlights:

  • 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.

Be Aware:

  • 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.

Checklist:

  • 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

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