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StoryWalk and Mesa Trail at O’Neill Regional Park

StoryWalk and Mesa Trail at O’Neill Regional Park

The StoryWalk and Mesa Trail area of O’Neill Regional Park is quite a ways from the entrance of the park which is off Live Oak Canyon Road.

You would normally enter O’Neill Park from Trabuco Canyon, but you actually approach O’Neill from Rancho Santa Margarita to get to this part of the park.

Dirt trail surrounded by trees and shade

Directions to StoryWalk and Mesa Trail at O’Neill Regional Park

I’ve included detailed directions on how to get to O’Neill’s main entrance in my big post about this park and playground.

I always advocate for paying fees to enter the parks, but in the case of StoryWalk the official OCParks.com also directs visitors to free street parking off El Camino Montana in Rancho Santa Margarita.

There is a chain link fence that separates El Camino Montana from the park along Live Oak Trail. The fence closes off the park all along the street except for a one-person wide opening for access near the cross street of Danta. The gate into the park is open near the intersection of El Camino Montana and Danta.

The map on my phone had a hard time with this one. You may want to click over to my custom playground map to see exactly where this is before attempting to use your Google Map or Apple Maps. MAP TO STORYWALK AND MESA TRAIL AT O’NEILL REGIONAL PARK

Highlights

The trail is shaded in the morning hours. We arrived right around 8am for our adventure.

Go through the gate and start walking to your right. You will be greeted by a StoryWalk sign pointing the way.

Story Walk sign with white words carved into green wood with trees as background

Then, along the trail on your left, you’ll start to see the displays welcoming you to the story of the month.

Many thanks to the National Charity League Canyon Chapter and OC Parks for this special experience outdoors in our parks.

Welcome to StoryWalk signage on the trail with wording about how StoryWalk started and who contributed it to the park.

Now you are on the path and I don’t want to give too much away! Half the fun is not knowing what’s coming.

I’ll just say that the story starts with display #1 and ends at #20.

Sunny dirt trail with eucalyptus trees in the distance

Don’t forget to be aware of your surroundings. It’s a great location for spotting wildlife and birds.

There are also joggers and people walking their dogs on the trail. You’ll notice views all around you as you get a different perspective. For instance, looking back on the trail the RSM bridge looked a bit different to me from this angle.

Shaded view of Rancho Santa Margarita bridge from Story Walk trail

Be Aware

This is inland and can get H-O-T so come early and bring plenty of water

As always, in these types of wild areas in Orange County, keep your eye out for rattlesnakes (but it is a wide trail and you can see very far ahead of you)

Stay on the trail to avoid disturbing off-trail habitat

If you enter from the main park entrance kiosk off Trabuco Canyon, you will have to drive around the entire lower area of the park, across the creek (normally dry during summer months), through the Featherly Day Use picnic area, and up a steep hill to the Mesa Trail and StoryWalk on your left. There are parking areas all along the road where you can keep your car and set up a picnic at one of the many picnic areas.

The walk only took me about 15 minutes. But I can see spending MUCH longer here if you embellish the story, read aloud, and if the kids are captivated by the illustrations.

Picnic area along the Mesa Trail in O'Neill Regional Park

Checklist

  • Fee for parking inside the park
  • Free street parking at El Camino Montana along Live Oak Trail
  • Wide dirt trail to experience StoryWalk
  • Restroom buildings along the trail
  • Some shade along the trail, but I recommend coming early to avoid the heat of the day
  • The trail is stroller-friendly if you are okay with your stroller on dirt. It’s wide and mostly flat since you are on a mesa over the rest of the park.
  • There are also picnic tables and picnic areas along the trail (if you park INSIDE the regional park) for a nice break with a view and then you don’t have to lug your food very far
  • Check hours and alerts from the Official OC Parks page for O’Neill Regional Park
  • For OCParks locations, you should get in the habit of checking the park brochure and map that is attached to every park page on their website. This map for O’Neill shows hiking trails and difficulty levels.
StoryWalk and Mesa Trail pin for Pinterest

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