Barbara’s Lake Hike (Laguna Beach)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||2.9 miles (4.7 km)|
|Other Options||2.4 to Lake and Back|
|Hike Time||1-2 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||370 feet (113m)|
|Highest Elevation||610 feet (186m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Fee|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Laguna Coast Wilderness Park|
|Weather & Forecast||Latest Conditions|
|Stay Safe||Copy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.|
This easy hike to Barbara’s Lake, one of Orange County’s only naturally occurring lakes, is well worth a go. While close to suburbia, the lake lies within the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve, an island of natural beauty where the land looks as it did hundreds of years ago. This guide will show you a pleasant loop that takes you to the lake, up a small climb, and then back along a ridge offering expansive views. You can also hike to Barbara’s Lake and turn around for a shorter experience.
Where is Barbara’s Lake?
The parking lot for the Barbara’s Lake hike can be found here, between Laguna Beach and I-405:
James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve, 350 Artisan Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
This hike is best done in the winter and spring when the landscape is green. In the summer and fall it can get dry and brown.
Gear For the Hike
This is a very easy hike and you can do it in fitness or even casual clothing. It is exposed and can get hot in the warmer months. Bring 1L of water and some sun protection.
Joby GripTight Smartphone Flexible Tripod
Take your selfie stick game to the next level. Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.
Latest Price – Amazon
Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Smartphones can work as flashlights, but that drains the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in a reasonably priced and high-quality headlamp like this Black Diamond. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.
Latest Price – REI | Amazon
REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $30 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, free shipping, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.
REI Membership – REI
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Barbara’s Lake Trail Maps
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
- There are three lakes here, collectively called the Laguna Lakes. They are the only naturally occurring lakes in Orange County and are fed by groundwater. The lakes are only 5 feet deep but are still an essential area for migrating birds. Barbara’s Lake is usually the only lake that holds water year-round and occasionally goes dry when there is extreme drought.
- When the Laguna Greenbelt first purchased the lakes, they were in a sad state and relatively unknown. Cattle from Irvine Ranch had trampled the banks by using them as a watering hole. The storm-water drainage from a nearby development spilled into Barbara’s Lake, filling it with soap, fertilizer, and pesticides. It’s only through the work of the local conservation groups that these lakes have become healthy again.
- Why is the other lake called “Bubble Lake?” In 1970 a drive-through animal park called “Lion Country Safari” opened by where the Los Olivios apartments are today. In 1978, a hippo named Bubbles escaped, making its way first to Lake #1 and then settling in the lake now known as “Bubbles Lake.” It became a media circus, and Bubbles even made it onto the Tonight Show. After 19 days, Bubbles was shot with a tranquilizer dart and then died. After her death, it was discovered that Bubbles was pregnant and looking for a safe place to give birth.
Barbara’s Lake Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
If you want to do the shorter out-and-back hike, just turn around here. Otherwise continue straight.
This guide last updated on May 15, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.