El Moro Canyon

Crystal Cove State Park, California

Distance4.9mi
Elevation Gain1,819ft
Trailhead Elevation124ft
Top1,024ft
Elevation Min/Max32/1024ft
Elevation Start/End124/124ft

El Moro Canyon

El Moro Canyon is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Newport Beach, California. It is within Crystal Cove State Park. It is 4.9 miles long and begins at 124 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,819 feet. Along the trail there are parking, drinking waters, and restrooms.

El Moro Canyon Professional Reviews and Guides

"Crystal Cove State Park preserves one of the last large, undisturbed parcels of open space along the Orange County coast, near Laguna Beach. Besides containing a 3-mile stretch of bluffs and oceanfront, the park reaches back into the San Joaquin Hills to encompass the entire watershed of El Moro Canyon—more than 4 square miles of natural ravines, ridges, and marine terrace formations. In the backcountry (El Moro Canyon) section of the park alone, visitors can explore about 20 miles of dirt roads and paths open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bicyclists."

"On this grand, looping tour of the Crystal Cove backcountry you’ll enjoy wide-ranging views from the spine of a prominent ridge along the way up, and admire upper El Moro Canyon’s fine oak woodlands on the way back down.

From the ranger station parking lot, take the dirt road leading east (No dogs road) toward a dry, scrub-covered ridge. After you climb a little, and if the morning marine-layer clouds have evaporated, fine views will open up of lower El Moro Canyon."

"This hike climbs up El Moro Canyon, which drains through
the center of the park on its course to the ocean. At the upper
reaches of the canyon, the route makes a loop up to Bommer
Ridge, then returns back along the canyon floor. From the ridge
are excellent vistas of the Orange County coast and the ridges
and canyons across the San Joaquin Hills."

"This long loop begins in Crystal Cove State Park and ascends
El Moro Canyon through riparian woodlands with sycamores,
willows, and live oaks. It returns along Moro Ridge in Laguna
Coast Wilderness Park. The return trail—an old ranch road —
travels through chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and grasslands
while facing the Pacific Ocean."

"For all intents and purposes, this area can be referred to as “Sycamore Canyon Lite.” It has all the environmental appeal of the Sycamore Canyon area of the northern Santa Monica Mountains, but in a more compact, manageable package. The described route is 14.4 miles and encompasses virtually all the terrain that Crystal Cove State Park has to offer. Minus the very technical, albeit short, descent on Redtail Ridge, all the other ascents and descents in the area are mellow and friendly. The trail maps posted on signs at virtually every intersection add to the area’s cordiality. Although some maps are fading and difficult to read, they make the terrain very easy to navigate and have catchy names for each section of trail like “I Think I Can Hill” and “The Missing Link.” All these elements create a vibe of user-friendliness that makes El Moro Canyon/Crystal Cove State Park a great place for newbie riders."

"The ride begins near the mouth of El Morro Canyon and follows the canyon to its terminus just above the San Joaquin Tollway. From the back of the canyon, a short jaunt on the Missing Link Trail leads to Morro Ridge Road. The ridge road bisects Emerald Canyon and El Morro Canyon as it heads back toward the Pacific Ocean. A final sharp descent back into El Morro Canyon allows for stunning coastline views. On clear days you will be able to see Palos Verdes, Catalina Island, and even distant San Clemente Island. Once you make it back to the canyon, turn left and complete the short climb back to the trailhead."

El Moro Canyon Reviews

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8/14/2018
A really nice trail, especially if you make it a loop. Great views of the coastline from the ridge. It's a pretty easy trail, just a few steepish inclines make it more moderate. The heat is more of a challenging factor so its better to hike it on a cooler or overcast day. The breezes from the ocean are pretty sweet, though.
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10/31/2009
Headed out on this trail with a friend around 10:30. It took us about 3-4 hours to get to the top of the Agua Mountain range where we discovered a plentiful supply of pine trees in the highest areas. Steep hike with almost all of the hike going up being up hill ranging from 10 to 30 degrees on the trail most of the way. But at the highest points of the trail you can see everything around you for miles, with the valley below you and San Jancinto Peak with Big Bear to the left. You'll enjoy this hike but make sure you bring lots of water. Not recommended for children or beginners.
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4/27/2008
Great hike but we all ran out of water on the last 2 mile return stretch!! Also we got startled by a rattler (unknown type) in a bush around the first horseshoe turn on our return. Good thing because we needed the newly aquired adrenaline to make it back to the Dripping Springs campground for nice toilets (all except the flys!!) and ice cold clean water. Water spigots through-out the campground had water even though the campground was closed probably due to fire recovery. Note to self for next time, bring 3 gallons of water to stay comfortable on the long long hike!! Wear tall gators to keep from getting scratched up and bring a small machete to better clear the trail of thorn bushes. :)
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4/1/2004
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3/29/2004
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El Moro Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Crystal Cove State Park
Nearby City
Crystal Cove State Park
Parks
U.S.G.S. Laguna Beach • Crystal Cove State Park map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018