Barbaras Lake Hike Laguna Beach

Barbara’s Lake Hike (Laguna Beach)

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Barbara’s Lake
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations for the Hike
  • Who Is Barbara?
Total Distance (?)2.9 miles (4.7 km)
Other Options 2.4 to Lake and Back
Hike Time1-2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)370 feet (113m)
Highest Elevation610 feet (186m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Park Phone949-923-2235
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions

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

Barbaras Lake Hike Directions 1
The parking lot is for the Dilley Greenbelt, part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
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There’s a medium-sized parking lot here.
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You can pay for parking at the kiosk with a credit card.

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.

Gear 2022 8

I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don’t have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There’s no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It’s just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I’m liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
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My August 2022 Top Gear Picks

Barbara’s Lake Trail Maps

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The trails are well marked with these trail signs.
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There are also interpretive displays that you can view with your phone scattered along the route.
Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

How will you navigate this hike?
I use my Epix to record the hike, GaiaGPS to zoom around a map, and have a backup paper map.
Learn more about navigation tools that I use here.

3D Map

Barbaras Lake Hike Laguna Beach 3d Map
The route follows a clockwise loop to the lake, and then up a small climb, and then back on the Mariposa Trail along the ridge.

Hike Brief

Barbara Stuart
Who is Barbara? This is Barbara, or more specifically, Barbara Stuart Rabinowitsh. Barbara was a classically trained ballet dancer for the New York City Ballet who once performed at Radio City Music Hall. Later in life, she settled in Laguna Beach and became a force, along with James Dilley, to protect the wilderness around Laguna Beach, called the Greenbelt. When she passed, she left $500,000 to preserve that wilderness. The lake (formerly “Lake #3”) was named after her. You can read more about this conservation effort in my “Best of Laguna Coast Wilderness” hike guide.

Barbara’s Lake Hike Directions

Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Barbaras Lake Hike Directions 7
The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot.
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Occasionally you’ll see volunteers here at the start of the hike.
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Once past the volunteer shelter, look for a quick left onto the Lake Trail.
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The sign will confirm that you are on the Lake Trail.
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And now start hiking up the flat and pleasant Lake Trail.
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Keep straight at the junction with the Mariposa Trail. If you do the loop, we’ll be coming back on that trail.
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Keep straight on the main trail.
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Now you have about 0.6 miles of gentle walking through the scenic landscape.
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When you get to the junction with the Gravel Trail, go straight through.
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And then Barbara’s Lake will be on your left.
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Keep going straight for some open viewpoints of the lake.
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There’s also a nice fan palm across the lake, which is native to Southern California.

If you want to do the shorter out-and-back hike, just turn around here. Otherwise continue straight.

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At the end of the lake the trail turns right and starts to climb.
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Keep going up along the power lines.
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Go straight when you see reach the intersecting utility road.
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To your right are great views of Orange County’s high point, Santiago Peak.
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At the top, you’ll follow the ridge away from the power lines and back into the more natural area of the park.
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To your right are spectacular views into Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. If you want to explore more, try my hike that covers the area you see here.
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At the junction, make the left.
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And then a quick right.
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Hike up the trail to the top of the Jack J. Rimel Reservoir.
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From the top of the reservoir you get nice views of Barbara’s Lake.
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There are nice views from the top of the reservoir. The trail continues to the right.
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Start the Mariposa Trail, which we’ll be taking back to the start.
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The views from the Mariposa Trail are incredible.
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When you get to the junction with the Sunflower Trail, stay left on the Mariposa Trail.
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And soon you’ll start descending and see the parking area in the distance.
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At the end of the Mariposa Trail, rejoin the Lake Trail for a second and you’re back at the start!

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, National Recreation Trails (NRT) Ambassador, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different in that it gives very detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I share the hiking tricks and tips that I’ve learned over the years to fast-track you into a hiking pro. And I tell you what hiking gear works and what gear doesn’t so you don’t waste your money.

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