So many rocks! They seem to have dropped from the sky and landed on the peaks of this narrow trail in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Stones of rust and bruise settled in the depressed center of the trail, some loose, some fixed to the ground. I went down the hills slowly, finding footholds and soft soil where I could, grabbing dead brush where it offered itself. When I could feel steady enough to stand on the declivity, I threw the larger stones off the trail. They landed with a thud or, at one place, a click as they fell onto a rock pile that other hikers had hurled before me.
The Billy Goat is the most difficult trail in Whiting Ranch, entirely unfit for trail bikers which is one of its redeeming features. Spring makes it one of the best places to enjoy wildflowers including the rare Weed’s Mariposa Lily. You have a view of one of the spurs of the Whiting Red Rocks that cannot be seen from any other place in the park. But it is a horrific path with steep hills that buck up and down and sides so precipitous that they threaten to throw you onto the sharp snags of the fire-crossed chaparral on either side.
Never do it on a hot day because the last thing you want is to have your brain broiling while you are making decisions about where you can place your next step without falling.
DIRECTIONS: Concourse Park is located at 18891 Saddleback Ranch Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92679. From Interstate 5, take the El Toro exit. Head north on El Toro to Ridgeline (just before Cook’s corner). Turn left on Ridgeline, proceed up the hill, and turn left on Saddleback Ranch Road. The park will be on your right. Park on the street or in the park’s parking lot. Do not park in the private recreation center’s lot by mistake.
ROUTE: Concourse Road to Whiting Ranch Road. Whiting Ranch Road to Four Corners. Head north on the Whiting Spur to the Billy Goat Trail. You can return by turning uphill on the Mustard Road. This takes you back to Four Corners. Either backtrack or take the Cactus Trail to Santiago Ranch Road to Sleepy Hollow to Whiting Road.
The location of this trail can be found on the Orange County Back Country map.