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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scouting Expedition

Day 44 of my running streak, I decided to run a scouting expedition.  I went dressed for running to a work meeting.  And directly afterward, I ran straight out to Trabuco Trail about 1.5 miles away for this scouting expedition.

Ever since I started investigating the trails along San Juan and Trabuco Creek, I had this idea of an epic run (an idea that was run by me a couple times by my old running partner, Tom.)  But when I finally found Trabuco Trail about a year ago and saw that it was closed, I put the idea aside.  Then the other day, while running around San Juan Capistrano, I saw that a new trail had been constructed just above Trabuco Trail.  I thought to myself – indeed the epic run is alive!

My idea is to run from the beach to the peak – that is Doheny Beach to Santiago Peak.  I’m sure it’s been done before, yet I can’t find specific information on the internet about such a run.  I have no idea how many miles the route is.  But I do know that it would probably be my most difficult run to date.  And I do know that it’s a bit crazy.  I’m even kind of afraid to try and get a group or even a single person to join me, because I have my reputation you know.  LOL.  But I do know without trail closures, a trail run from Doheny to Santiago Peak is possible.  And so, today I ran that new Trabuco Trail with the limited time I had to scout it out.

So, I took off on the “old” Trabuco Trail and struck a pose in front of the “closed” sign I soon ran up on:

And I took the new, upper-trail.  It doesn’t run along the creek, and I could see the “old” trail below, which looked in good condition to me.  The lower closed trail was natural and kind of rugged.  The new trail was groomed with wood chips and moved alongside a private school.  The kids were at lunch, some were in P.E. class.  Lots of the children waved.

After crossing the creek, I made my way to the original trail.  It meandered through mustard plant fields, then to my utter delight, an orange grove.  I could hear the cars speeding by on the freeway a few hundred yards away.  The trail had no climbing and was quite tranquil despite the freeway.  There was nothing technical about it, no hills, ruts, rocks or gulleys, but it was still beautiful.

Then the trail turned right.  I ran beneath both the southbound and northbound Interstate 5 Freeways.  It was dark, loud, long (I’d guess 8 to 10 lanes worth) and quite eerie.  But I could see the “light at the end of the tunnel” and looked forward to discover where I’d come out.

To my great surprise I came out at the bridge pictured below.  I’ve driven past it hundreds of times and have always thought, “That’s an odd place for a bridge.”  Ms. Trail Runner didn’t even think that it might cross the creek TO CONNECT TRAILS!  I had actually thought it was an old, possibly abandoned, unused bridge.  Funny girl. 

At the end of the bridge there were 2 trails to choose from.  I chose the one that went up and had the word “Trabuco” in it.  I ran Trabuco Ridge.  Again, the trail was uneventful, easy running rolling hills (well, all were not that easy, but it’s all relative right?)  Soon I ran high above the freeways and I could see that I was passing Saddleback College in Mission Viejo on my far left. 

I ran up and down these grassy hills, coming across only two other people.  They sat together on the grass beneath an umbrella in practically the middle of nowhere.  We all smiled and waved as I passed.  I noticed that they were drinking water  – perhaps something else, I mean what the heck were they doing there???  LOL. 

There she is!  Santiago Peak:

Eventually, I had to turn back because I needed to pick the boys up from school.  On the return trip I spied four deer frolicking on the hillside.  If you look closely in the picture below, you might see them.  (You might have to click the picture for a larger view).

Making better time than I expected, I took the time for some photo ops while  crossing Trabuco Creek:

No, I’m not dancing.  I’m trying to sit down in time before the camera clicks:

And then I crossed the creek and ran back to my car parked at my work for a run totaling 8.40 miles (13.52 km).

Trabuco Creek:


  1. Great pictures, Lauren. By the way, you have really become a running machine!

    I have been wanting to do a run that I call "Tides to Towers" along Trabuco Creek myself. I have a route, and wanted to be the first to do it, but I'm in no shape right now. Silly, but I was going to carry a little bottle of ocean water and pour it out on Santiago Peak.

    You're going to find the route before long anyway, so I may as well tell you. Remember running Arroyo Trabuco from Beebee park all the way down until the trail ended at a golf course? Sure you do! (I got us lost, then lost my glasses and you stepped on them!) Well, you were very close to that golf course!

    After coming out from under the freeway, don't cross the bridge - go out to the road and turn right. Rosenbaum, I think. Within 1/2 a mile, you'll be at the golf course and Arroyo Trabuco trail. You cross under Oso at 10 miles, the Toll Road at 15 miles, hit O'Neill Park, cross Live Oak Canyon Rd., take Trabuco Creek Rd. to Holy Jim Trail Head (21 miles) and on to Santiago Peak (29 miles).

    This is important: On Arrroyo Trabuco, you have to cross over to the other side of the creek (on a poorly marked trail) at around the 8 mile mark, just before the bridge at Crown Valley or you will get lost!

    Good luck! Can't wait to see your Tides to Towers pictures!

    1. Tom I definitely remember that run. Your route is interesting. I didn't have any idea of this alternative. I scouted today again, and I crossed the bridge again, and ran eight miles which got me DEEP into Arroyo Trabuco Trail. I am so surprised that I'm not supposed to cross the bridge. I'm also so amazed that I can catch Arroyo Trabuco Trail by turning right after coming out from the freeway. If I do this way, will it cut out all the up and down hills getting out of San Juan Capistrano?

      Today, I crossed the bridge and took that Trabuco Ridge trail, up and down up and down, I could see the golf course eventually, but to my left. After a couple miles I finally went down to a single track and pretty quickly ran beneath Crown Valley. A little bit after that I was on familiar ground. I do believe that I went through a tiny bit of private property going this route, but there was no chance at getting lost around Crown Valley.

      Love the title Tides to Towers -- can I use it? I'm not doing this run this month. (So maybe you can start training -- No pressure or anything : ) A friend read my blog yesterday and wants to run it also. Have you thought of biking it?

      Thanks so much for your help. I will check out this other route asap. I'll blog the route I took today.

      I would have never even though of doing this run if you hadn't mentioned it. Thanks!

  2. When you set a date for the run, please let me know as I would love to do it; I am slowly getting back in shape.

  3. I will definitely let you know Rachel! Check the OCTR site for other runs too.