For a more curated experience check out trail guides from our partner publishers.
Day Hikes Around Orange County
by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)
The Aliso Summit Trail is a little known gem discretely perched on the steep cliffs of Aliso Canyon. It is tucked behind the gated community of Coronado Pointe in Laguna Niguel and borders the east boundary of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The serpentine trail follows 800-foot-high cliffs on the east rim of the canyon. Throughout the hike are views of the stream-fed Aliso Canyon and the Pacific Ocean.
50 Trail Runs in Southern California
by Stan Swartz, Jim Wolff & Samir Shahin (The Mountaineers Books)
Delightful plants including wild artichokes, cactus, and colorful flowers line this course in abundance. A tree-lined stream is at the bottom of Wood Canyon. Rabbits are plentiful and often dart across the trail as you approach. The challenging climbs will get your heart pumping. The public park at the trailhead has restrooms, water, tennis courts, a playground, and a community center. Dogs are not allowed in county parks.
This hike travels west into Aliso Canyon and turns north up Wood Canyon. Along the way, the trail passes Cave Rock, a 26-million-year-old sandstone formation, and Dripping Cave, a historic water-carved cave also known as Robber’s Cave. The overhanging rock shelter was used as a hideout to rob stage-coaches en route from San Diego to Los Angeles. Holes are bored into the interior sandstone walls, once used for hanging supplies on pegs.
Afoot & Afield: Orange County
by Jerry Schad and David Money Harris (Wilderness Press)
This neighborhood trail on the ridge overlooking Aliso Canyon doubles as a firebreak that separates the huge hilltop mansions from the fire-prone sage scrub in the canyon. The mellow hike is popular with locals because of its sweeping views. Cyclists connect with city streets for a hilly loop.
Mountain Biking Southern California's Best 100 Trails
by Delaine Fragnoli & Don Douglass (Fine Edge Productions)
One of Orange County's most popular riding spots, Aliso/ Wood Canyons Regional Park-part of Laguna Niguel Regional Park lies hidden between Laguna Beach and Laguna Hills. It is a unique combination of city and country land. The western portion is a part of Laguna Beach Greenbelt, whose high, lush ridges have been secured as a source of open space and recreation. a series of trails and roads crisscross this area above Laguna Canyon Drive, and from the ridge, four other trails drop down into the park. Together, these two parcels form an adult playground of over 5000 acres.
Orange County: A Day Hiker's Guide
by John McKinney (The Trailmaster)
Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, the largest park in the hills above Laguna Beach, preserves 3,400 acres of pastoral Orange County. Most locals and other hikers refer to the low hills that back the Orange County coast from Corona del Mar to Dana Point as the Laguna Hills or “the mountains behind Laguna Beach.” Actually, the northerly hills are the San Joaquin Hills—their cousins to the south are the Sheep Hills. Here’s how nature writer Joseph Smeaton Chase described an outing in the Sheep Hills in his classic 1913 book, California Coast Trails: “A few miles along a road that wound and dipped over the cliffs brought us by sundown to Aliso Canyon. The walls of the canyon are high hills sprinkled with lichened rock, sprinkled with brush whose prevailing gray is relieved here and there by bosses of olive sumac. Our camp was so attractive that we remained for several days.”
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park consists of over 4200 acres of shallow canyons, sandstone rock formations, narrow strips of oak and riparian woodland, and hillsides draped with aromatic sage-scrub vegetation. Subdivisions and subdivisions-in-the-making press in along the park’s long, narrow boundary, which is perforated by many neighborhood access points.
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