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
Stay SafeCopy 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

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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.

Griptightone Gpod Tree

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

Astro Headlamp

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 Member Card 2

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.

My May 2022 Top Gear Picks

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

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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

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.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

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

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

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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!

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.

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