Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Location of Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Location of Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Within Orange Park Acres is a gorgeous little park called Santiago Oaks. It’s located just a little bit off of Santiago Canyon Road, and it is open everyday from 7a.m. to sunset. This park doesn’t have any of the fancy features that you will find at Irvine Park, but what you will find is a beautiful park full of hiking trails that is horse friendly.

The park is located just below the Villa Park dam, so there is a beautiful creek that runs through it during the rainy months, however, if there is a big storm, please keep in mind that Santiago Oaks may be closed. When they let water out of the dam, the creek rises quite high becoming dangerous, and they close the park.

Through the years, this has been one of my favorite parks. I went for a walk here with my husband almost every morning, when I was pregnant with each of my kids. We’ve celebrated Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day and birthdays there. You may find
that it becomes one of your favorite places as well.


The History of Santiago Regional Park

Excerpted from OCParks

Santiago Creek was named by the expedition of Gaspar de Portola in 1769 in honor of St. James (San Iago). In 1866 Llewellyn Bixby and his cousins, Benjamin and Thomas Flint, and a fourth partner, James Irvine, purchased portions of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. In 1876, the Bixbys and Flints sold the majority of their holdings to Irvine. The “Blome” area, which the Bixbys called “The Oaks,” remained in Bixby hands and later became part of the Bixby Land Company. In August, 1879, local landowners sought to improve the agricultural productivity of their lands. On Bixby’s land a clay dam was submerged to the bedrock floor of Santiago Creek to force more groundwater to the surface. When that early dam was destroyed by flooding a few years later, it was replaced in 1892 with one made of river rock and cement which still stands within the present park. (You can still see the water flow up from below ground at the dam in the park.)

In 1938, 33 acres of land on the south side of Santiago Creek (just down stream of the Old Dam) were purchased by W. Norment Windes. He built a large residence, which later became the park’s Nature Center. A nine-acre Valencia orange grove had been planted by 1937. Norment Windes and his wife lived on the property until his death. His widow sold it to his brother-in-law, Harold Blome, in 1955. Blome was a professor of education at Redlands and Pasadena as well as a one-time Arizona rancher and copper miner.

Directly across the creek from the Blome property was the 62-acre parcel purchased in the 1920’s by George Lemke from the Bixby Land Company. He named the area “Oak Tree Ranch” and in the late 1920’s planted 26 acres of Valencia oranges.

In 1959, Lemke sold the property to the Rinker family, who discontinued the citrus operation. The Rinkers hoped to build a residence on the property and planted approximately 3000 trees among the declining orange trees. However, the Paseo Grande Fire of 1967 and the heavy flooding of 1969-70 both severely impaired the physical and commercial value of the area. Rinker soon abandoned his operations and his plans.

In 1959, Lemke sold the property to the Rinker family, who discontinued the citrus operation. The Rinkers hoped to build a residence on the property and planted approximately 3000 trees among the declining orange trees. However, the Paseo Grande Fire of 1967 and the heavy flooding of 1969-70 both severely impaired the physical and commercial value of the area. Rinker soon abandoned his operations and his plans.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors moved to acquire them for public use and preservation. The Rinker property was purchased in 1974 for $560,000 and the Blome property in 1976 for $379,000. Limited public use began early in 1977.

In 1981 the ranch house built by Windes in 1938 was re-opened as the park’s Nature Center. It now provides exhibits on the natural and human history of the area with a special attention given to the wildlife. Park staff place particular emphasis on environmental education, sharing the beauty and wonder of nature. Nature walks, slide programs, and films are presented to school and youth groups as well as the general public.


 

Santiago Oaks Regional Park Trail Map

Click on the map below for a Santiago Oaks Trail Map  (8.5 x 11 – Black and White PDF)

Santiago Oaks Trail Map, courtesy of OC Parks

Santiago Oaks Trail Map, courtesy of OC Parks

 

Color Santiago Oaks Regional Park Trail Map

Santiago Oaks Trail Map
This new color trail map from the OC Parks has been sized to print on legal sized paper (8.5 x 14 in full color at a resolution of 150)

Santiago Oaks Regional Park trail map

Santiago Oaks Regional Park trail map

 

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