Trabuco Creek (known also as Arroyo Trabuco) is a 22-mile (35 km)-long stream in coastal southern California in the United States. Rising in a rugged canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County, the creek flows west and southwest before emptying into San Juan Creek in the city of San Juan Capistrano. Trabuco Creek's watershed drains 54 square miles (140 km2) of hilly, semi-arid land and lies mostly in Orange County, with a small portion extending northward into Riverside County. The lower section of the creek flows through three incorporated cities and is moderately polluted by urban and agricultural runoff.
Tongva and Luiseño Native American people lived along the perennial stream in settlements and hunting camps for 8,000 years before the invasion of Spanish colonization. Trabuco is Spanish for a Blunderbuss, a type of shotgun. Local legend attributes a Franciscan missionary friar traveling with the Gaspar de Portolà Expedition in 1769 for the story that a blunderbuss was lost in the upper canyon by the creek, and so the naming of the area. John "Don Juan" Forster received a Mexican land grant in 1846 for the canyon lands and creek and established Rancho Trabuco here.
In its natural state, Trabuco Creek supported one of the most significant steelhead trout runs in Orange County, and birds, large mammals, and amphibians still flourish in riparian zones along its undeveloped portions. Trabuco Canyon along upper Trabuco Creek, and long, narrow O'Neill Regional Park, formed from the original land grant of Rancho Trabuco in 1982, are popular off-roading, hiking, fishing and camping areas in the watershed.
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