Rancho Margarita Loop

ORANGE COUNTY, ROAD RIDE, RANCHO MARGARITA LOOP This bike ride loops through Rancho Santa Margarita, one of Orange County’s youngest cities, and Mission Viejo, one of the earliest of the “master planned” communities that Orange County has become known for. The ride is characterized by broad parkways that wind along high ridges before dipping into canyons below. Easy downhills are followed by long steady climbs, all of which make for a modestly challenging, enjoyable ride. The ride begins at Trabuco Mesa Park, an attractive space with many amenities. Located just north of the park, where Antonio Parkway ends, is the Live Oak Canyon Trail, part of Ride 44, which runs alongside and into O’Neill Regional Park. Where the trail parallels the park it is mostly flat before turning into the canyon along a steeper section. Once in the park, the trail connects to a number of others, most of which are better suited to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Encompassing 3,358 acres of canyons and hillsides, this park offers much to explore. The first leg of this ride along Antonio Parkway is steadily downhill. For most of this descent neighborhoods will pass on your right while natural, untouched hillsides pass on your left. The road and bike lanes are wide through here and lightly traveled. Near the bottom, along Oso Parkway, the route is flanked by developed hillsides as it crosses over Trabuco Canyon. Expect traffic to pick up through this section. At 10.92 miles, while traveling along Margeurite Parkway, the route passes Lake Mission Viejo, a manmade reservoir. Although residency in the city is required to be on the lake or its beaches, non-members can walk the paths around the lake. At the top of Marguerite Parkway the route turns right onto Santa Margarita Parkway, the steepest section of the ride. At 16.95 miles, just before reaching Antonio Parkway, the route passes Lago Santa Margarita. This manmade lake stretches over 11.5 acres and is stocked year round with bass, bluegill and catfish and although swimming is not allowed, boating and fishing are. The walk around the lake is a picturesque 1.1 miles. The shopping center next to the Lago has a number of restaurants. Carmelitas offers Mexican fare and Wings Bar and Grill offers casual food with lots of beer choices. Both come with a view of the lake. Side Trip Along this ride you will pass Lake Mission Viejo which is a pleasant place to picnic. Near the ride’s start is O’Neill Regional Park, a vast green space, much of it in a natural state that offers opportunities to hike and bike throughout. FOOD AND DRINK Located at the corner of Antonio and Santa Margarita parkways is a shopping center with a number of dining opportunities. ACCESS By bus, OCTA 84 makes a stop at the corner of Antonio and Margarita parkways. Begin ride here or head a half mile north along Antonio Parkway to Trabuco Mesa Park. By car, take exit 19, Santa Margarita Parkway off of toll road CA-241 and head west. After 0.5 miles turn left onto Avenida de las Flores and travel for 1.4 miles, Trabuco Mesa Park will be on your right.
Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
Fitness Level: Medium
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Estimated Distance: 28.0
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle / uber
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