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Blue Jay Campground | Cleveland National Forest | San Juan Trail Hike

Blue Jay Campground | Cleveland National Forest Hike Overview:  Seeking new adventure? Tired of the same trails in Orange County? It’s time to visit Cleveland National Forest and explore the San Juan Trail and Blue Jay Campground! For this #GoHikeIt adventure, it’s best to dedicate at least one full day & night to enjoy the camping experience.

The Blue Jay Campground is located 4 miles off the Ortega Hwy in the heart of the Cleveland National Forest. There are 50 campsites available on a first come, first serve basis without formal reservations. During the popular summer months, the campsite can quickly reach full occupancy. There are fire pits, toilets, trash cans and grills available for use. Sections of the campsite, including bathrooms have been renovated over the last few years. Bring plenty of drinking water as there are no formal convenience or stores located in close proximity to the campsite. It’s also recommended to drive a vehicle with high clearance as the road up to the campsite is not well maintained.

The campsite gives a complete “wilderness” feel as some of the sites are surrounded by dense brush and trees. There are several incredible hiking trails within a short walking distance from the campsite, including the Los Pinos Peak and San Juan Trail.

The San Juan Trail is approximately a 15-mile one-way single-track trail that starts at the Blue Jay Campground and continues down the Ortega Canyon. The trail has incredible views of the surrounding Cleveland National Forest and Ortega Canyon. On clear days, it’s possible to see as far as Catalina Island. Pay attention for bikers, as the San Juan Trail is also popular mountain biking trail, especially on the weekends.

Estimated Time: 2 hours – 35 hours (with overnight camping)

Total Distance: 2 miles – 30 miles

Trail Pictures

Map & Directions

Total Distance (miles)

Total Estimated Time (hours)

50 Campsites


Located in the Heart of the Cleveland National Forest

15+ Miles of Single Track Trails

Fire Pits, Grills & Trash Cans Available at Campsite

Blue Jay Campground | Cleveland National Forest Hike Photo Gallery

(click on image to rotate through image/s) 

When to Go

Spring/Fall: During the cold winter months, sections of the san San Juan Trail may be closed due to rain and it may be a tough experience camping at the Blue Jay Campground. Additionally, temperatures in the canyon area can exceed 100+ degree and reservations at the campsite may be full during the hot summer months. Therefore, the Go Hike It team recommends exploring the San Juan Trail and campground during the Spring or Fall.

Dog Friendly

Yes, dogs are permitted. However, they must be kept on leashes.

Parking Info

Day parking for the Cleveland National Forest is $5/day with a Forest Adventure Pass. For the campground, permits are $20/night for the first car and $5/night for each extra vehicle.

Trail Map


Address for GPS: Blue Jay Campground, Long Canyon Rd, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

Intensity Levels

Barry-the-Bear: Un-bear-lievable ! This was my first time camping in Orange County, CA and I loved it! The forest surrounding the Blue Jay Campground was lush with greenery and trees. The trails were very easy to access from our campsite and well maintained.

  • Intensity Level 70% 70%

Larry-the-Lion: The opportunities are endless! You can literally start at the Blue Jay campground, hike down the San Juan Trail and go up the Los Pinos loop. You can spend a full day hiking! Stay vigilant! If you are hiking or trail running on the San Juan Trail, keep an eye out for mountain bikers as they are frequently going down the loop.

  • Intensity Level 45% 45%

Chris-the-Cheetah: Epic! Our group enjoyed having a toasty fire and roasting s’mores after a full day hiking the San Juan Trail loop.

  • Intensity Level 58% 58%

Trail Pictures

Map & Directions

Why We Liked It

If you enjoy bonfires, s’mores and getting away from it all, this experience is for you! The Blue Jay campground is well maintained and a fun outing for experienced or new campers. There are several hiking trails that branch out from the campground, including the Los Pinos Peak Trail and San Juan Trail Loop that make the #GoHikeIt outing an epic adventure!

Enjoy it?

What’s your favorite hike in Orange County, CA? Leave a comment and share your favorite trail!

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