Caspers Wilderness Park is an 8,000 acre protected wilderness preserve within the western coastal Santa Ana Mountains. Highlights of the park include lush valleys full of native Coastal Live Oak and California Sycamores. During spring this area is known for vibrant wildflower displays. There is camping, horseback riding, hiking trails, and more all within Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park.
- Amphitheater and Gazebo
- BBQs and picnic tables
- Biking and hiking trails
- Bird watching
- Camping/RV camping
- Equestrian corral and trails
- Dump station
- Fire rings
- Horseshoe pits
- Nature Center with Interpretive Programs
- Scenic overlook
Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park Details
Address: 33401 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Park Hours: Sun – Sat: 7:00 AM – Sunset
Interpretive Center: Open Saturday & Sundays only, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Parking: $3 per vehicle Monday – Friday; $5 Saturday – Sunday; Higher for some holidays and events
Dogs are not permitted
What’s At Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park
A great way to experience the entire park is to venture out on the trails. All trails are open to equestrians and hikers, and select trails are open to biking.
Bell Canyon Trail: For an easy, out and back hike through the park, hit the Bell Canyon trail. Traveling the full length of the trail, it’s just under four miles round trip.
East Ridge Trail: For a little bit more work and views from the ridgetop, Start out on the 2.8-mile East Ridge Trail. Turn it into a loop by connecting to Cougar Pass to the Bell Canyon Trail and linking back to East Ridge Trail via Quail Run.
Juaneno Trail: For an easier loop trail, pick up the Juaneno Trail from the San Juan Meadow Group Area and take it to the San Juan Creek Trail to head back the direction you came and reconnect with the Juaneno Trail.
Located on a hill is the small Nature Center. Although the volunteer-run center is open only on weekends you can enjoy the tower and upper deck every day. Both provide views of the surrounding area and are popular for bird watching. Inside features include interactive exhibits about local wildlife, tracks to make with stamps in a sand pit, kids books and activities, and a fun hut to climb in. There is also a drinking fountain and restrooms located at the Nature Center.
Camping is a popular activity and available year round. Check-in time is 2 p.m. and check-out time is before 12 p.m. Camping is reservation only which you can reserve online. If your group size is over 17 people you will need to contact the park office for a group camp site.
The main camping site, Live Oak Grove Campground has 42 campsites for RVs, trailers, and tents. Nearby is Ortega Flats Campground with an additional 13 campsites that include electric hook-ups. The park also features its popular Starr Mesa Equestrian Campground.
Playground and Tot Lot
Located nestled near the creek is the playground area. There is a separate structure just for 2-5 year olds nearest to the parking lot. The larger playground structure includes a climbing wall, zip track, balance beam bridge, and ring-shaped monkey bars.
Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park Events
On Sundays you can participate in a Ranger-guided walk through the park. During this walk you will learn more about the park’s plants and wildlife as well as the area’s history. Walks during the week can be arranged by advance appointment.
“Critter Talks” are another guided tour available. You must make an advance appointment and these walks have a nominal fee. These educational programs are geared towards students and can be held at the park or brought to your school or organization. Scout programs are also available by appointment with a Ranger.
Star Parties are popular events hosted at Caspers. Thanks to its setting away from Orange County’s light pollution, visitors can bundle up under the stars for astronomy nights and catch a glimpse of the Milky Way.
Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park is operated by OC Parks. Annual Passes are available for purchase for access to all parks in the OC Parks System.
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Kaitlin is a former ballerina who now travels around the country in an 18-foot converted school bus. Her and her husband have welcomed 34 sweet children into their home the past eleven years. Although they would not be a forever home for all of them, they adopted their daughter buckets and are legal guardians to their son monkey. Follow their crazy adventures on Instagram @runawaymusbus