Great panoramas don’t all require epic hikes. A 3.5-mile (round-trip) trek up to 1,152-foot Robber’s Peak in Santiago Oaks Regional Park gets you gorgeous vistas of Orange County, iconic mountains, and the Pacific. The trail is also bike-, equestrian-, and dog-friendly.
According to legend, outlaw Joaquin Murrieta would make his roost here to prey on traveling stagecoaches. From the parking lot, hike the Santiago Creek Trail for a quarter-mile.
Take a left turn to ascend Oak Trail’s 1.5 miles of meandering switchbacks lined with wildflowers and sandstone rock formations. After the first 0.7 mile, you will see Robber’s Peak for the first time. At the base of the peak, continue straight to hike to the top (tip: those in need of an extra challenge and glute workout, choose the trail to the right and scramble up the sandy base of the rock formation).
Atop the graffiti-covered knob you’ll get a 360-degree view of Mount Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east and Catalina Island to the west. You can also see areas impacted by recent wildfire as burnt coastal oaks stick out on the landscape.
Return via the same route (there’s a shaded rest structure for those wanting a break).
Picnic Tip: Make sure to explore the 0.23-mile Historic Dam Trail near the start of Oak Trail, which leads to an oak-shaded lunch spot beside a teal-green lagoon.
Take E. Santiago Canyon Rd. to N. Windes Dr. in Orange. Continue on Windes Dr. until you reach the regional park outpost and parking lot. Parking is $3 Monday – Friday and $5 Saturday – Sunday. The exact address is 2145 N. Windes Dr., Orange, CA. Dog-friendly!