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James Dilley Preserve Combo



4.7 mile 7.5 kilometer loop
92% Runnable


Ascent: 540' 165 m
Descent: -540' -165 m
High: 607' 185 m
Low: 313' 95 m


Avg Grade: 4% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Erwin Chang

A fun combination of trails in the James Dilley Preserve.

Erwin Chang

Features Lake · Views

Closed for a couple days after rain.


An easy little pac-man like loop that gets views of local communities, toll roads, electricity towers, and Barbara Lake.

Need to Know

$3 parking fee at the machine. Change is given in the form of $1 coins. Scarce tree cover, so bring sun protection.


For this route, I started out on the Canyon Trail and then continued up the Black Jack Trail. Black Jack is the steepest incline, but it's only about 1/4 of a mile. Continue on the Ridge Top Trail and you'll see communities of Aliso Viejo to the right. Keep taking right forks and you'll pass a large-ish circular "plateau" on the left.

This spot has views of the canyon in all directions, but skip it because you'll come back to it later. Ridge Top Trail will comes to the junction of Gravel Trail and Edison Trail and take the right fork again to stay on Edison Trail. I can only assume it's named that for all the electricity towers spotted along the path.

There are some fake paths that are for utility maintenance of the towers only that may confuse you on the trail, but they're pretty well marked so you can avoid those. Edison wraps along Barbara's Lake, and you'll be running alongside the lake with some tree cover and sights of ducks.

Once the lake ends, start on Barbara's Lake Trail - this part was probably one of the longer straights with less to see while going along side the 133 freeway/toll road. You can continue on Barbara's Lake Trail to the parking lot, or continue on to see the inner canyon by taking a left at the Sunflower Trail Junction.

Sunflower Trail has a decent incline and eventually hits Mariposa Trail. Take a left at the Mariposa Trail junction, and eventually you get back to that large-ish circular "plateau". Once at the "plateau" you'll find the start of the Canyon Trail alongside the south side of the circle and head down it.

Canyon Trail has a lot of loose rocks, so take care when descending. Once it levels off, you'll be in the bottom of the canyon - it's probably a little longer than the Lake Trail, but a little more interesting. You'll soon come across familiar surroundings as you'll exit out back at the parking lot.

History & Background

I read that Barbara's Lake is the largest non man-made lake in the Laguna chain of lakes.

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Jan 14, 2018
Andrew Quintana
Coyote on The Lake Trail around 2.75 on this map Went down to base of Mariposa then looped back to Sunflower 4.1mi

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  3.0 from 2 votes
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in California


75 Views Last Month
1,086 Since Jan 17, 2017



Canyon trail descent
Jan 17, 2018 near Laguna…, CA
Barbara’s Lake
Jan 17, 2018 near Laguna…, CA
The Sunflower Trail offers views of Laguna Canyon and toll roads.
Jan 17, 2017 near Laguna…, CA


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