Aliso Creek Bike Trail: A Gem in SoCal Where You Can Almost Reach the Ocean

Hello, fellow outdoor enthusiasts! Today, I want to share with you one of Southern California’s not-so-hidden treasures: the Aliso Creek Bike Trail. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or someone who just likes to enjoy a leisurely ride amidst nature, this trail is something you should definitely check out.

Quick Overview of Aliso Creek Bike Trail

FeaturesActivitiesAccess & ParkingHighlights
Nestled in Orange County, starting at Trabuco Canyon and winding down almost to Laguna Beach. The trail is about 19 miles long, offering scenic beauty and urban views.Suitable for cycling, jogging, and walking. The trail accommodates all types of bikes and skill levels, with a well-maintained, paved path.Parking available at multiple locations including Awma Road, Sycamore Park, El Toro Park, and near Saddleback Church.Diverse landscapes, from canyons to suburban areas.
The trail is well-maintained and paved, perfect for all types of bikes. Dirt road options available in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.Relaxing and scenic trail.Multiple access points allow for choosing the length of your ride. Free parking with porta-potties available at key starting points.Suitable for all skill levels, making it a shared space for joggers, walkers, and cyclists. Family-friendly and accessible.
It’s a shared space, welcoming everyone from families with kids to experienced riders.The trail offers a mix of gradual uphills and fun downhills, depending on the direction of travel.Parking is convenient with designated lots and street options. Be mindful of parking hours and restrictions, especially in wilderness park areas.Key highlights include the wildlife sightings and the well-equipped rest stops along the route.
The entire stretch is paved, making it an easy ride for families and offering fantastic scenery.The trail cuts through the stunning Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, offering wide paths with canyons on both sides.Free parking and multiple access points along the trail, including areas with additional facilities like bathrooms.The trail features several wooden bridges and areas requiring caution, especially near the riverbed where there’s no fence.
Aliso Creek Trail starting point on the right side of El Toro road
Aliso Creek Trail starting point on the right side of El Toro road

Where Is It?

The Aliso Creek Bike Trail is nestled in the heart of Orange County, starting at Trabuco Canyon and winding down to Laguna Beach. Note: you can’t reach the ocean though. This trail spans about 19 miles and offers a mix of scenic beauty and urban views.

Aliso Creek Trail starting area
Aliso Creek Trail starting area

What to Expect?

The trail offers a variety of landscapes, from canyons to suburban areas, and glimpses of the beach towards the end. It’s a well-maintained, paved path suitable for all types of bikes. Depends which way you’re going, you can expect a gradual uphill which can be a fun downhill ride on the way back. You can also take dirt roads at the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness park.

Aliso Creek Trail in Trabuco Canyon on the left side of El Toro
Aliso Creek Trail in Trabuco Canyon on the left side of El Toro. Go through the tunnel to continue the trail.

Who Can Ride?

Everyone! The trail is perfect for all skill levels, from families with kids to experienced riders. It’s a shared space, so expect to encounter joggers, walkers, and other cyclists.

Aliso Creek Trail in Trabuco Canyon CA
Aliso Creek Trail in Trabuco Canyon

Key Highlights

  • Wildlife: Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife. I’ve seen Bob cats, skunks, and deer cross the bike path.
  • Rest Stops: There are several parks along the trail for breaks, complete with information kiosks about the area’s rich history.
  • Accessibility: Multiple access points allow you to choose the length of your ride.
Aliso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo CA
Aliso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo

Safety Tips

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Carry water, especially during warmer days.
  • Be mindful of other trail users.
  • Be keen on navigation, especially around construction detours.
Aliso Creek Trail in Trabuco Canyon
Aliso Creek Trail in Trabuco Canyon

Parking and Access

Parking is available at multiple locations like Awma Road near Aliso Canyon Road, Sycamore Park, El Toro Park, parking near Saddleback Church and others.

Aliso Creek Trail parking lot near Saddleback Church
Aliso Creek Trail parking lot near Saddleback Church in Lake Forest

My Regular Rides on the Aliso Creek Trail

I bike on the Aliso Creek Trail all the time. It’s right by my house, and I’ve explored it in both directions. One way heads up to Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon, and the other leads towards Laguna Beach. But, you can’t get all the way to the ocean because the trail stops at the Ranch golf course, which is private property. I’ve heard rumors about a secret route through the golf course starting near the wastewater treatment plant, but I’ve never tried it myself. Usually, I just stop at the Ranch gate where it’s marked private and head back.

Aliso Creek Bike Trail in Mission Viejo
Aliso Creek Bike Trail in Mission Viejo
Aliso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo
Aliso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo
Aliso Creek Trail in Lake Forest
Aliso Creek Trail in Lake Forest
Biking on Aliso Creek trail in Lake Forest
Biking on Aliso Creek trail in Lake Forest
Aliso Creek Trail in Lake Forest
Aliso Creek Trail in Lake Forest
Aliso Creek Trail Lake Forest CA
Aliso Creek Trail Lake Forest CA
Aliso Creek Trail Lake Forest
Aliso Creek Trail Lake Forest
Aliso Creek Trail 9
Aliso Creek Trail
Aliso Creek trail
biking through a tunnel on Aliso Creek trail

The trail’s really stunning, especially the part that cuts through Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness park with canyons on both sides. It’s also pretty wide in this section. I’ve attached some photos from where the trail starts in Trabuco Canyon. This part is hilly, and as you head down, you’ll pass through Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, and Laguna Niguel.

Aliso Creek Trail Mission Viejo
Aliso Creek Trail Mission Viejo
Aliso Creek Trail
biking on Aliso Creek Bike trail
beautiful Aliso Creek bike path
Aliso Creek Bike path
At the end of Aliso Creek Trail in Laguna Niguel
At the end of Aliso Creek Trail in Laguna Niguel
Turn right to take the sidewalk to the beach
Turn left at the end of the trail if you want to ride to the beach. You can ride on the sidewalk or on the road.
Turn right to go to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Turn right to go to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and continue the bike trail.
Entrance to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness park
Entrance to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness park. Turn left to continue the bike path
Parking lot at the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Go through the parking lot at the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park or take the bike trail on the side of the entrance
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

While on your way to Laguna Niguel, you’ll cross several wooden bridges. There are a few spots where you need to be careful, especially near the riverbed where there’s no fence. In Laguna Hills, the trail goes onto sidewalks for a bit, and you have to cross some traffic lights and a major intersection, but then it becomes a bike path again. The trail finishes at Awma road, and from there, you can go through the Aliso & Wood Canyon park and continue on a nice, wide path. There’s a sign that says no e-bikes but most of the people there are riding them anyways. The park hours are 7 am to sunset but I’ve been there at night way passed the sunset.

Biking trail at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Biking trail at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Beautiful scenery at the Wood Canyon Wilderness Park
Beautiful scenery at the Wood Canyon Wilderness Park
Biking at the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park
Nice wide trail at the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Nice wide trail that continues throughout the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Trail at the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Approaching to the end of the trail. On the left is the water plant and if you turn right, you can take the road a little further that ends with private property.
The end of trail at Aliso Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
The end of the wide trail at Aliso Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
On the left of the trail is water treatment plant
On the left of the trail is water treatment plant
Private Property sign at the Ranch
Private Property sign at the Ranch
End of trail at the Ranch in Laguna Beach
End of trail at the Ranch in Laguna Beach. This is as far as you can go. On the other side of the golf course is the ocean but you can’t get to it.

The entire stretch from Trabuco Canyon to the Ranch in Laguna Beach is paved. I’ve also biked to Salt Creek Beach, but that requires taking Alicia to Crown Valley Parkway and then to Niguel Road. You might end up riding on the sidewalk or alongside cars on the road.

I really like the Aliso Cree bike path, and so do my kids. It’s easy to ride since it’s paved and the scenery is fantastic. Just be aware of a few spots where you need to be extra cautious.

me on the beach
About the author

Hi, I'm Kat, the adventurous spirit behind TasteCaliforniaTravel, your guide to the hidden wonders of California. Having called California home for the last 15 years, I am thrilled to take you along on my journey and share the adventures that this incredible state has to offer.

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