O’Neill Regional Park is situated in Orange County, California, it is about an hour south of Los Angeles in the heart of Orange County. It is bordered by Trabuco Canyon, Whitings Ranch, Cleveland National Forest, and the City of Rancho Santa Margarita, making it easily accessible. The park offers camping, hiking, mountain biking, equestrian trails, day use facilities, and connects to the trails running running south west towards the beaches.
O’Neill park is run by OC Parks and they limit the type of use of each trail. Some trails will allow a combination of hikers, equestrians, dogs, and mountain bikers. Single tracts are typically limited to hikers and equestrians. Dogs are only allowed in camping facilities and the Mesa Trail (paved). Since L is spending 3 months at home with Baby S (thank you California Paid Family Leave), we have been frequenting the park a lot due to the proximity to our home. Below are some of the trails we’ve explored:
Our friendly neighbors at Joshua Tree National Park recommended visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (AnzBo) since the wild flowers are supposed to be in full bloom this time of the year. Since our original plan to explore the Mojave Trails did not pan out, we had one more day before our vacation ended. We decided to go home first to resupply and cleanup before heading to Palm Canyon campground at AnzBo. We called the Palm Canyon campground the day before and the ranger informed us all campsites were booked but we could still try for a walk-up tomorrow at noon.
After our warm hike into the Amboy Crater, we looked around for a campsite for the night. Camping is permitted around the Amboy Crater as there were no signed deterring people from camping. In the end, we decided against camping at the trail head because despite the nice facility, there were graffiti and bullet holes throughout the area.
L carrying Baby S hiking inside the Amboy Crater rim
It was another beautiful day out at the Mojave Desert as we woke up camping beneath the Granite Mountains. As usual, Baby S woke up at 6AM. We had breakfast and took our morning hike around the campsite trails. This schedule seems to work out for us since it coincides with Baby S’s nap time. We were sad that our stay at Mojave National Preserve has come to an end but were so grateful to have spent the last 3 days exploring this hugely understated park. We still cannot believe we stayed away from this place for so long! Mojave National Preserves has made its way into one of our favorite places.
Eating dinner and trying to stay warm at the Granite Mountain campground
The wind finally died down sometime in the early mornings. We woke up to a beautiful day and took a hour long hike towards the cinder cones on the jeep trail. During our walk, we noted that ecosystem here is really different compared to Hole in the Wall where it was mostly young Joshua Trees and cactus versus short brush near the lava beds. For the second time during our trip, we noted how nice it would be, if we had our mountain bikes with us on this trail.