From the Ladera Sports Park parking area, take the dirt road bordering the park east. Within 1/8th of a mile, take the sharply descending single track (or the gravel road just beyond it) to the bottom gravel road. Turn right and go past a small building. Continue on the fire road nearly two miles. This will be your first of many creek crossings. On the other side of the creek, you’ll pass under Antonio Pkwy.
The trail follows the creek and crosses many times. You want to stay on the Arroyo trail. You’ll generally heading left at any intersection. If you make a wrong turn, you will end end up in a neighborhood before you reach O’Neil park. Simply retrace your path and take the other turn.
At the west entrance of O’Neil park, turn right just before you would have went through a fence. Follow this around the west side of the fenced are, cross the creek, and continue through the day use area to a road.
Follow this road up to the top of the day use area. There you will see a bathroom. The dirt trail continues to your left.
Continue following this dirt path for a little over a mile. Watch for openings in the fence on your right (it will be hard to spot through the trees). If you miss the opening, you’ll end up at a dead end. Simply turn around and look for the opening. Go through the opening and follow the sidewalk along the fence.
At a clearing which opens up to your right, follow the dirt path to the end of the clearing. This is the end of Antonio Parkway.
Ride down Antonio Parkway (all downhill) to Bievenidos. Cross the street there to hook up with the Tijeras Creek path.
Now this gets a little tricky. Follow the fire road downhill but don’t go too fast, otherwise you’ll miss an unmarked trail that will be on your left. If you miss it, you’ll end up at a dead end. Down shift to your lowest gear and get ready for a super steep (but short) climb that goes up and to the right over jagged rocks and loose dirt. I’ve only ever seen one person clear this section (me).
At the top of this steep little climb, continue on the path stay right at each fire road. Just before the under crossing you’ll see a singletrack heading up to the left. If you miss it, you’ll end up at a dead end. This singletrack goes under the 241. This is where the real fun begins!
The Tijeras Creek trail is absolutely beautiful. On your left is the 241 freeway and on your right is the creek. It’s easy to do 25 MPH but be CAREFUL! There may be other riders, hikers and people on horseback coming in the other direction.
At Antonio Parkway, you’ll see a baseball park on your left. Continue on the path to the right going under Antonio Parkway. Youll see a golf course on your right on the other side of the creek.
At the Las Flores sign, turn right and go around the neighborhood. You’ll have to go out of the trail system onto a sidewalk along Antonio very briefly. The trail continues on the other side of this minor detour.
When you get to Oso Parkway, cross the street and go left through the shopping center over to Antonio Parkway. Turn right. You’ll see the Ranch Santa Margarita Water District on your right. Just past this you’ll find a singletrack that drops sharply down into another creek area. BE CAREFUL. At the bottom of this steep drop is a sharp right turn that goes over a cement drainage ditch. There may or may not be a piece of wood covering it! With experience, you’ll clear this turn no problem. But just to be cautious, assume that the wood is NOT there.
You can’t get lost in this section. You’ll pass through a set of jumps and continue on the singletrack all the way back to the fireroad you began your trip on. Some sections in this area were bulldozed during a fire. Over time though, the trails should be pretty well established. At the last part of this singletrack, be prepared to downshift quickly for a small uphill out of the creek area.