Laguna Coast Wilderness Park#7 in Best Things To Do in Laguna Beach
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A trip to California isn't complete without a hike, and in Laguna Beach, visitors can take advantage of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. The park encompasses 7,000 acres of land and features 40 miles of trails throughout. What stands out about the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is that it is one of the few coastal canyons left in southern California that hasn't been taken over by development. Should you decide to walk along one of its trails, you'll stroll through woodlands and valleys, along creeks and a lake and up and down hills, some of which lead to lookout spots that afford incredible views of the Pacific Ocean.
To check out the beauty of the canyon, take a hike along the peaceful Laurel Canyon Trail. For ocean views, hit up Laguna Bowl and Water Tank Road Loop where you'll hike to a ridge that towers over the city. Recent visitors said the park is pretty and peaceful, though some did warn future travelers to arrive early to beat the heat (there are few trees in the canyon so don't expect any adequate cover from the sun during your hike). It's also important to note that poison oak and wildlife (think: snakes) dwell within, so be mindful by staying on marked trails, not taking any part of the park with you and remaining alert at all times.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is adjacent to Crystal Cove State Park, a little more than 2 miles north of the center of town. The park is open from 7 a.m. to sunset but the parking lot hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no entrance fee but if you plan on utilizing the parking lots, you'll have to pay $3. The park's main entrance, where you'll find the Nix Nature Center and the Laurel Canyon Trail, is located north of Highway 73. South of the highway you'll find trails that lead to ocean views via the Willow and Big Bend Staging Areas. For more information on Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, check out the OC Parks website.
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#1 Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest beaches you'll find in the greater Laguna Beach area. The shore measures 3.2 miles long, affording plenty of space for both lounging in the sand as well as long walks. The reason for this is that unlike all the other beaches in Laguna Beach, the beach at Crystal Cove State Park isn't in an enclosed cove. Rather, the beach is backed by seemingly endless bluffs that give way to 2,400 acres of backcountry woodland.
This section of the park features 15-plus miles of hiking trails that take visitors inland into the park's canyon and up and down pathways that afford beautiful views of the ocean. A good introduction to Crystal Cove's backcountry is the Moro Canyon trail. The trail is 3 miles out and back, but if you cut along the connected East Cut Across Trail down Moro Ridge, you'll eventually hit the coast following the Moro Ridge trail. It's important to know that no matter where you hike in the park, you may encounter wildlife, including snakes and bobcats. Stay on marked trails, don't mess with the environment and remain alert.
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