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Crystal Cove Hike

Crystal Cove Hike

Crystal Cove State Park offers pristine coastal nature, ocean views, and well marked trails. This Crystal Cove hike takes you on a best-of loop, with great views of the mountains, ocean, and on a clear day, Catalina. One of my favorite hikes. There's also a shorter route, see the hike details for more info.

Rating:
5 / 5
Distance:
9 miles (14.5 km)
Time:
3:30 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Climbing:
990 ft (302 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked trails
Challenges:
Climbing
People:
Moderate
Known For:
Ocean views, pristine chaparral canyons
Best Time:
Morning, evening
Dogs:
No
Bathrooms:
Yes
Parking:
Fee

Crystal Cove Hike Trail Maps

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651, USA

Crystal Cove Hike location

The Crystal Cove hike is 5 minutes from Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and 25 minutes from John Wayne Airport.

Crystal Cove Hike trail 3d map

The Crystal Cove hike does a loop in the park. It climbs up the picturesque Moro Canyon to the highest point in the park, then down along a ridge.

Crystal Cove Hike elevation

The Crystal Cove hike climbs to the highest point in the park, and then you're rewarded with non-stop ocean views on the long descent.

Interactive Map

Crystal Cove Hike Map Downloads

hiking map on garmin fenix 3

If you have GPS device (I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.

Also, don’t rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There’s a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up a good topo map too.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Crystal Cove Hike Directions

Crystal Cove Hike

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

Crystal Cove Hike trailhead
Getting to the trailhead might be the trickiest part of this hike. When you turn off the PCH (local lingo for the Pacific Coast Highway) in Laguna Beach, go straight (instead of turning into the school, which is the trailhead address).
Crystal Cove Hike trailhead
The road curves around (passing a one way street coming in from the left) and splits. Take the right fork toward the Crystal Cove State Park campground.
Crystal Cove State Park campground
Go through the Crystal Cove State Park entrance gate and pay your fee, then continue straight. The Crystal Cove State Park campground will be on your right.
Crystal Cove Hike parking
At the end of the lot, bear left and head down the steep hill, leading to a parking lot. Drive towards the far end and park.
Crystal Cove Hike parking
The parking lot has bathrooms and a sink to fill up your water bottles and daypacks. Go towards the board at the far end of the lot to begin the hike.
Crystal Cove Hike bridge
Start the hike by going over the bridge.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
Once over the bridge, hike to the left on the big trail.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
Soon after that, ignore the trail to the right and keep hiking straight.
Crystal Cove State Park trail maps
At the trail junctions, you’ll notice these handy Crystal Cove State Park trail maps. The rivet or screw in the sign indicates where you are on the map.
Crystal Cove State Park trail maps
As you continue hiking, the trail climbs, and you get a nice view of the valley that you’ll be ascending.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 1 mile, keep hiking to the left.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
Shortly after, at about 1.1 miles, stay right and continue up El Moro Canyon Trail.

Hike Shortcut

To do a shorter, 3.7 mile hike (and miss some of the views), make the left at the last intersection and bear onto the West Cut Across trail. Stay left, and climb until you reach No Name Ridge Trail. Then skip down the directions to “shortcut pickup” to continue the hike.

Crystal Cove Hike trail
Keep hiking to the left. You’ll see a few of these ‘side trails’ that lead to nowhere. They are built to access the power lines.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
There’s another big power line access trail, keep hiking to the left.
Slow N’ Easy trail
At about 2.6 miles, make the hard left to hike up the Slow N’ Easy trail.
Slow N’ Easy trail
The Slow N’ Easy trail climbs gently.
Crystal Cove Hike views
As you hike up the climb, you’ll start to see the ocean off to your left.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At 2.8 miles, another trail leading to a power line veers off left, keep hiking right.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At 3.8 miles you will reach the end of the trail, hike to the left toward the gate.
Crystal Cove Hike gate
There are smaller side trails for mountain bikers here, keep hiking straight and hike over the gate.
Signal Peak
Signal Peak, at 1,164ft, comes into view as you hike on the trail.
Bommer Ridge trail
At about 4 miles, hike left onto the popular Bommer Ridge trail.
Saddleback Mountain
As you hike along Bommer Ridge Trail, you’ll have great views of the Santa Ana mountains to your right, including the highest peak, Saddleback Mountain at 5,689ft.
Bommer Ridge trail
At about 4.2 miles, continue hiking right on Bommer Ridge trail.
Crystal Cove Hike views
As you hike on the trail, it opens up to some incredible views of Irvine, Tustin, and Orange County. On a clear day, you will have a nice view of the San Gabriel Mountains. The two big concrete structures in the valley are blimp hangers from World War 2.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
Continue hiking on Bommer Ridge Trail up the hill. Again, there are little mountain bike trails that split off occasionally, just keep hiking straight on the big trail along the edge of Crystal Cove State Park.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 4.9 miles, you make a sharp left.

If you need water or a bathroom break, go past the gate, onto the road, and make a left. There is a sports field and park with bathrooms and water fountains.

Crystal Cove Hike trail
Continue hiking straight as the trail makes it’s way over the bumps on the ridge, Great Wall of China style.
Crystal Cove Hike sign
You’ll see signs for Orange County Parks. This hike goes through Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Crystal Cove Hike gate
At about 6.1 miles, hike over the gate to re-enter Crystal Cove State Park.

Shortcut Pickup – If you took the shortcut, you’ll come out here.

Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 6.9 miles, continue hiking straight.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 7.1 miles, continue hiking to the right.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 7.7 miles, continue hiking to the right.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 7.8 miles, continue hiking to the right.
El Moro Canyon Trail
If you look down to your left, you’ll see the El Moro Canyon Trail that you started on, along with a lot of other trails in Crystal Cove State Park.
 ocean views
Soak in the ocean views as you hike, you’re almost finished.
Crystal Cove State Park parking lot
At about 8.5 miles, you reach the end of the trail. Hike left on the paved road into the Crystal Cove State Park parking lot.
 Crystal Cove State Park parking lot
Continue hiking through the Crystal Cove State Park parking lot. There are bathrooms and water here to your left.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
At about 8.7 miles, at the end of the parking lot, make the left onto the trail.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
Continue hiking on this trail, which will follow the Crystal Cove State Park access road that you drove in on.
Crystal Cove Hike trail
Continue hiking left on the main trail (this small trail heads to the Crystal Cove State Park campground).
Crystal Cove Hike end
Here you are, back where you started!

A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.

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