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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 656: San Juan Loop - Cleveland National Forest - Ortega Highway - Bear Canyon Trail - Ortega Falls - Candy Store

King of the San Juan Loop Trail

Day #656 * Hike #780 * New Track #644
Sunday September 2, 2012
San Juan Loop - Cleveland National Forest, CA
The Ortega Highway - Bear Canyon Trail - Ortega Falls - The Candy Store
My Tripometer: 1.25 Hours * 2.25 Miles * +325 Feet
 
 Looking back on the Ortega Hwy, we were actually entering the Forest

 The World Famouse Candy Store

 Trailheads!  Let's go for a hike!!!

 San Juan Loop Trail Map

Directions:
From the I-5 in San Juan Capistrano, exit on Ortega Highway (the 74) and head east.  Take this road about 20 miles and you will see the Candy Store on your right.  The Bear Canyon Trail is actually just before the store and if you are looking for a challenge, this 6.5+ mile hike may be right for you.  Instead, with the wife and kids, I convinced the family to join me on the San Juan Loop Trail.  The parking lot is just across the street from the Candy Store...

 Hike up and out into the open

It was morning so the temperature was just right for this hike.  I imagine that this section of trail would not be much fun with the 100 degree afternoon sun...

 The Cleveland National Forest - huh, doesn't look like Cleveland

 Ortega Falls?

The lady at the Candy Store was helpful.  She pointed out this hike for me but warned that the falls were completely dry due to the lack of rain.  I researched this area online, slightly, and I think this is the Ortega Falls area.  It's only about a quarter mile from the trailhead.  While the wife and kids hung out up top, I explored the rocks below...

 Pretty cool down here

 It kept going but the wife became impatient...

 Looking back up the easy part of the falls

 A closer peek

I rejoined the troops and we continued down some easy switchbacks.  Lower we go...

 Back on the trail; why are they thirsty?

 We reached the riverbed

 Sandy and completely dry!

 Following the trail, don't forget to stay left
look at the map above, the wrong way may lead you ..?...


 It's nicely shaded down here

 hang a left at the campgrounds

 time to begin your climb back

You will be following Ortega Hwy on your way back.  We reached a fork and I presume that the right fork took you back to the highway so we took the left one.  We felt a little lost and confused, which is the norm for me...

 The group was getting restless so I jumped ahead

The view from the parking lot...

Hey, I successfully guided the troops around the loop.  2.2 miles felt like 3+ miles with the family but overall, this was very easy.  Hey, we still have plenty of time before we meet up with Alyssa at her next soccer game.  Where should we go next?...

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