This “best of” Crystal Cove hike takes you on a loop trail offering pristine coastal nature, ocean views, and well marked trails. You’ll take in the endangered native coastal sage scrub plant wilderness, which is how the area looked before it was developed, and then hike to heights where you’ll be able to see from the San Gabriel Mountains to Catalina. If this hike is too long for you, I offer a shorter version in the directions too. This hike is one of my favorites.
Where Do I Park For the Crystal Cove Hike?
Crystal Cove State Park has several parking areas and entrances. Use this trailhead address for the hike: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651, USA. Once you turn off the Pacific Coast Highway, follow the directions below. There ares some twists and turns to get to the correct parking area for the hike.
Crystal Cove State Park can get crowded, especially in the summer. Show up early before the parking lot gets full. Otherwise you will be turned away at the park entrance. There is a fee to park here, or you can use a California State Parks Pass.
There are bathrooms and water at the trailhead, and at the mid-way point on the hike.
After your hike, walk down to the beach for a swim and grab a bite and a drink at the Beachcomber Cafe.
What You Need For the Hike
Although people do this hike in workout clothes, it’s a longer hike and I do recommend proper hiking gear. Here’s what I bring:
If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list. I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.
Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.
There are mountain bikers and runners, so keep an eye open and give them room to pass.
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.
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.
Shortcut Pickup – If you took the shortcut, you’ll come out here.
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