Casper’s Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano, California


Our home away from home…

Spending a few days at Casper’s Wilderness Park was awesome! Although the hub and I visited the day use area during our dating years, this was our first time camping in the park. What a beautiful, clean, relaxing, place to stay and so close to home, less than an hour away. The camp spots for RVs are wide, spacious, private and surrounded by trees and grass meadows. Electricity is available for a few extra dollars, and although you must draw your water, there’s a spigot right off the road.  We topped off our tank before pulling into the site. The site was level, so no need to do anything but park and make things comfy.


The grandson posing…………

To the delight of our grandson, the site was surrounded with a few old coastal oak trees, ready for climbing. He was able to entertain himself for quite a bit while we set up camp and got everything in order. Once we were done, it was off to explore the playground, as promised, where playing children were plentiful.


A view of Saddleback and the Santa Ana Mountains

The next morning the grandson and I headed out early for a little hiking, leaving the hubby to sleep in. I was a little nervous about exploring the trails, especially after noticing signs warning of mountain lions.  Seems Casper’s is a mountain lion habitat. Awesome, big cats and rattlesnakes. The grandson and I discussed what to do in the event one crossed our path–“act big, make noise, throw rocks, don’t run.”  Water bottles, snacks, rocks….we’re ready.


We chose the East Flats trail because the trail head was close to our site and the park guide listed it as “easy.”  After a half-mile of hiking straight up, the grandson and I decided that whomever dubbed this trail easy was seriously misguided.  After a few rest stops, a bottle of water, and some Angry Bird fruit snacks, we finally arrived at the Quail Run crossing.

Quail Run

Quail Run

Listed as moderate, the grandson and I renamed this trail “OMG.”  We passed a dad with some really tired (and grumpy) children attempting to make the top of the ridge. Thank goodness we were descending the trail; I’m just not fit enough for moderate and strenuous labeled trails.


Happy Grandma heading down the trail

After arriving back into civilization (e.g., the day use area), we decided to rest awhile under a shady grove of oaks and plan our hike back. We weren’t interested in returning the way we came in, it was all uphill.  We decided to hike one more trail, and I’m glad we did.  The Nature loop was level, shady, and relaxing–my kind of trail.


Nature Loop

We came out by the Old Corral and took the road back to camp.  It was 1:30 p.m. and we had left 4 hours ago.  We lost cell service up in the hills so I called the hub so he wouldn’t worry.  What a wonderful day of hiking!

The red windmill and the Old Corral

The red windmill and the Old Corral

On Monday it was time to head home.   I was really impressed with Casper’s Wilderness Park.  Close to home, family friendly, abundance of trails to hike, great camping spots, helpful park ranger’s on site, and beautiful outdoor surroundings.


Of course, there are a few downfalls.  Our camp ground, Ortega Flats, is next to the highway which means noise.  At times, the roar of passing cars and motorcycles overshadowed the sound of nature, but it subsides in the evening so sleeping is not a problem.  Last, the restrooms (aka flush toilets) and showers are located at the Live Oak campground, which is at least a mile away. But  if your desperate, there is an outhouse available in the center of camp.

Ortega Flats Campground

Ortega Flats Campground

Over all, I would return to Casper’s again. It’s a wonderful county park worth returning to for camping, hiking, or just spending the day wandering the hills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Until next time, happy wanderings!