Trip Planning
Things to Do
Health and Beauty
Shop and Dine
Art and Music
Real Estate
Resident's Guide
Local Businesses

Site Map


Laguna Beach
Crystal Cove's El Moro Canyon
Back in the 30's, the Irvine Company, which ran cattle up in the canyons of the San Joaquin Hills, rented out a quiet stretch of beach north of Laguna Beach to vacationers who built an electric group of 45 rustic structures along the coast. The cattle are gone, but most of the historic beach structures, now owned by the state, remain. Across the highway, a 9-mile loop through El Moro Canyon climbs steeply through thick coastal sage habitat of wild mustard and flamboyant artichoke thistle. In the spring, the dry hills break out in blossoms of monkey flower, laurel sumac, and wildflowers. Hike the trail counterclockwise following the natural contours of the canyon and ridgeline. Beware of mountain bikers who like to test themselves on the steep descents of this popular multi-use track. Where: Crystal Cove State Park is about 1 mile north of Laguna Beach off Pacific Coast Highway (State 1). When: Year-Round; spring for wildflowers. Distance: 9-mile loop Difficulty: Moderate Cost: $5 parking Contact (949) 494-3539 Views, Wildflowers, Horses Allowed, Mountain Biking

Mission Viejo
Santiago Peak via Holy Jim Trail
The journey truly is more important than the destination on this long climb to the top of the highest peak (5,687 ft.) in the low-lying Santa Ana Mountains. The trail follows a creek for the first mile or so to popular Holy Jim Falls. If you are accompanied by children, the 2 and a half mile round-trip hike to this cool grotto is perfect. From the falls, a hard climb up the canyon through chaparral hills and beneath a few old oaks takes you to shady Bear Spring (5 miles from trailhead). It's difficult scramble to the summit, but the 360 degree view of the San Gabriel Mountains, San Jacinto Mountains, and Channel Islands is worth it. Where: From I-5 take El Toro Rd. east 7 and a half miles to Live Oak Canyon Rd.; turn right. A mile past O'Neill Regional Park, turn left on unpaved Trabuco Canyon Rd.; go 5 miles to trailhead. When: Cool, misty mornings December-May Distance: About 16 miles round trip to peak. Cost: $5 parking
Contact: Trabuco District Office (909) 736-1811Dogs allowed, Heat/Sun Exposure, Views, Waterfalls


Fortuna Mountain Trail
Payoff: Fortuna Mountain Trail reveals inspiring views to ocean and back country without the hordes climbing nearby Cowles Mountain. Don't miss the side trip to Oak Canyon's tiny rock gorge. Where: From I-8 to take Mission Gorge Rd. north to Father Junipero Serra Trail. It's 1.8 miles through park to trailhead at Old Mission Dam parking. When: Fall-spring for Oak Canyon waterfalls; spring for ceanothus bloom. Distance: About 3 miles to North Fortuna summit. Difficulty: Moderate; very steep 990-foot elevation gain. Cost: Free. Contact: Mission Trails Regional Park; (619) 668-3275
Heat/Sun Exposure, Views, Wildflowers, Waterfalls


Lake Forest
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park
Weather-worn 100-foot sandstone cliffs that were once part of the ocean floor are the main attraction in this nearly 2,000-acre park, but the diverse wildlife and terrain make this loop a hiker's favorite. Borrego Trail funnels you through a shady canyon bottom, crossing in and out of several habitats: oak woodland, fragrant coastal sage scrub, grasslands. Make a right on Mustard Road; a side trail up spectacular Red Rock Canyon is on the left. Continue east to Four Corners, then through Serrano Canyon via Whiting and Serrano roads back to Portola Pkwy. Recent acquisition of Lower Serrano Canyon gives you direct access to an additional 22 miles of hiking trails in adjacent O'Neill Regional Park via a pedestrian tunnel. Where: From I-5 take Lake Forest Dr. north 5 and a half miles to Portola Pkwy.; turn left, go half a mile, make a right on Market Place, then an immediate left to parking. When: December-May, when native plants green up and creeks are running Distance: Loop is about 6 miles Difficulty: Easy Caution: Watch for mountain lions and rattlesnakes. FYI: Closed for 48 hours after substantial rain. Cost: $2 parking Contact: (949) 589-4729 Family hike, Wildflowers, Bird-watching, Horses Allowed, Mountain Biking



San Diego
Broken Hills Trail, Torrey Pines State Reserve
The most heavily used trails in San Diego County may be in Torrey Pines State Reserve, and with good reason: ocean views, pine groves, spring wildflowers, and sandstone formations here are as alluring today as they were in the 19th century when San Diegans first clamored for their preservations. Experienced park hikers know one area that sees little foot traffic. Pick up a trail map at park headquarters and note how Broken Hill Trail leaves the old coast road (now open only to foot and bicycle traffic) in two places. Take either branch to a junction where a dead-end trail leads to one of the most oddly beautiful erosional formations west of Bryce Canyon National Park.Broken Hill looks like the underside of a deeply finned dark mushroom. Its reddish brown sedimentary rock is the top layer of three ancient seabed strata that define the park's geology. At the promontory, you can look out over more furrowed hills. Picture windows in La Jolla homes glint 7 miles in the distance, and out to sea you'll probably spot a whale spout or two if you hike here between December and March. Explore the beach at low tide. Where: From I-5 near Del Mar, take Carmel Valley Rd. west to Camino del Mar (it becomes N. Torrey Pines Rd.) go south half a mile to park entrance. When: Year-round; winter for gray whale-watching. Distance: About 1 mile to Broken Hill ocean overlook. Difficulty: Easy, sandy trails. Cost: $4 Contact: Torrey Pines State Reserve (619) 755-2063







Home | Featured Cities | Trip Planning | Things To Do | Recreation | Health & Beauty | Shop & Dine | Art & Music | Real Estate | Resident's Guide | Education | Local Businesses | Advertising |Disclaimer
This site is owned and operated by Purpose Media
For info on this site or ad rates call 949.443.1323 or email
Featuring photographic images courtesy of

© Copyright 2008 & Purpose Media.
No unauthorized duplication without written consent. Copyright violations are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.