Hike Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Laurel Canyon Laguna Coast Wilderness Park


From the issue Turkey Trots

Laguna Coast Lope

Here's something to be thankful for: the 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park protects some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Orange County. Explore a few of its highlights on the 3.5-mile (round-trip) Laurel Canyon Loop. Start from Willow Canyon Trailhead on Laguna Canyon Road and begin hiking up Willow Canyon Road. After a healthy helping of turkey, some folks might find themselves trypt out by the wide fire road, which gains 575 feet over the first 1.5 miles. The early reward for the huff and puff up the exposed and chaparral-covered ridge is broad over-the-shoulder views of Laguna Canyon. On the backside of the loop, ease down into Laurel Canyon and along a quiet path through an oak-dominated forest. Crunch over fallen leaves from a few bright orange sycamores and exit the canyon through a grassy meadow dotted with stout, curiously shaped sandstone formations, including one that resembles a face with its tongue sticking out. Now who's talking turkey!

TIP: Post-hike, cool down with a margarita on the oceanfront patio at Las Brisas Restaurant in Laguna Beach (361 Cliff Drive).

Take Laguna Canyon Rd. to the Willow Canyon parking area on the west side of the road, 3 miles north of Laguna Beach, 0.2 miles south of El Toro Road, and 0.7 miles south of the SR 73 toll road. Pay a day-use fee ($5 weekends, $3 weekdays), register at the sign-in table, and pick up a trail map. Hike 1.5 miles up Willow Canyon Rd. Make the first right on Laurel Spur and drop half a mile into Laurel Canyon. Turn right and proceed 1.5 miles down the canyon back to the trailhead. No dogs.

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