Aliso Summit Trail

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, California

Distance2.9mi
Elevation Gain131ft
Trailhead Elevation333ft
Top399ft
Elevation Min/Max326/399ft
Elevation Start/End333/333ft

Aliso Summit Trail

Aliso Summit Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Laguna Niguel, California. It is within Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. It is 2.9 miles long and begins at 333 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 131 feet.

Aliso Summit Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

Aliso Summit Trail Reviews

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6/25/2018
This is a really nice (mostly flat) walking and running trail with beautiful views of the ocean and canyons. The entrance on Highland has a steeper initial climb than the more moderate elevation change from the Pacific Island entrance. It is is a family-friendly and dog-friendly trail behind a residential area. This neighborhood dirt trail is along a cliff (there isn't a fence, so be cautious) behind the residential area. As you hike, you'll see a lot of pretty landscape with fancy gazebos and luxurious backyards on one side. On the other side of the trail, you will be rewarded with beautiful ocean views, Catalina, and Aliso Woods Canyon Park, which is quite lovely during the spring. The trail is nice and wide to accommodate walking and cycling in both directions. Keep in mind that there are no water or facilities on the trail, and I imagine it is pretty hot in the dead of summer because there aren't a whole lot of shaded areas. It wasn't terribly busy but there were a fair amount of people and dogs on strolling around out here at 5pm on Sunday.
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4/27/2010
Great scenic park. Out of two days riding thorugh this park and the one beside it Cholla Loop was a relativly easy trip to the top of the world and Rock-It was by far one of the most fun trails down. This is apparently a popular park and is crowded. Ripping it down the hill is unsafe simply b/c of the mass of people. Still a great ride and one of the best trail views of Laguna Beach.
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7/18/2009
I run this trail almost every wkend. You can park at the main entrance off Alicia Parkway, head down the paved trail about 1/2 mile until you hit the dirt trail.....beautiful scenery, enough other runners/bikers to feel safe to run alone, but no so busy that you can't enjoy the trail. Mix of sun/shade and main trail is about 5-7 feet wide..goin' this route you'll find porta pottie where paved road hits main dirt trail at about 1 mile in....
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9/20/2008
Meadows is a single track with some very sharp steep turns. It is a beautiful and fun trail for those with some experience. And most everyone takes the Meadows trail down, hence your experience. From the top of the world, the easiest route for a beginner would be to go down Matthis, the widest and flattest of the trails, and up Cholla. Cholla is also a steep single track, but it is the shortest track up.
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7/21/2008
Pleasant enough trail - well sign posted, good track, good parking at trail head. Some technical bits especially descending on Rock-it trail. Would have been a beautiful setting 10-15 years ago but now motorways or housing developments surround the trail ... sign of the times. Must be better trails a bit further inland.
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3/9/2008
My girlfriend and I took our mountain bikes to the park and parked at the TOP OF THE WORLD. We rode down "West Ridge Tr." which brought us all the way down to "Wood Canyon Tr." We rode that trail all the way out thinking that it would bring us back out to the beach... but we hit a dead end (Orange County Water/Sewage Plant)! It was either ride all the way back the way we came or hike up "Meadows Tr." which looked easier... but in reality it totally sucked!!! Neither of us could ride up it so we had to hike it and it was not fun! Would like to explore the park a little more in the future. It was beautiful and we even saw a deer. Would highly recommend going there... but not if you're a novice on a bike!?
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2/23/2007
Nice fun trail, good ride for beginner to intermediate. Weekends get a bit crowded and watch out for the idiots who want to ride three abreast up hill on the same trail shared by those coming down: causes some real exciting situations. This trail should go to the beach in Laguna but the City owned Country Club blocks beach access and there's no way around it unless you are prepared to travel several more miles.
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8/28/2006
It's a great rid enot too far for people living in Orange County or near. Great parking area and great views if you can make it up hill first; that if you do not park at the top of the hill. There are many different trails you could do ariund here and easily could take you a full day around here if you have energy. The rock it trail downhill is awesome..that if you do not fall over the handlebars like I did and smashed my helmet and got shoulder partially separated. I'm fine know after a month. Great trail...try it!!!
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7/30/2006
This was a great trail to do if you want new scenery and want to leave your stopwatch behind. The suggested course takes you down a long stretch of downhill and then steep uphill at the end. It's fun and challenging with many opportunities for detours to see caves and natural wonders. Tons of mountain bikers, hikers, and runners encourage you on. If you park near the playground, you don't have to pay for parking! For extra mileage, continue along the flat part of Wood Canyon Trail and don't start to head back uphill until you're ready for your run to come to a close. (I would even suggest using the uphill trek as a walk/cool-down).
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3/20/2006
Overall I thought the trail was excellent. My only negative is that it is a bit too advanced for me as I have only just begun riding. For those that seek a more adventurous ride I would strongly recommend.
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Aliso Summit Trail Photos

Trail Information

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Nearby City
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
OC Parks: AWCWP
Local Contacts
U.S.G.S. San Juan Capistrano Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018