Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike

Distance7.5 miles (12.1 km)
Time3 Hours (Total Time)
Total Climbing1,210 feet (369m)
Dog FriendlyNo
Park NameLaguna Coast Wilderness Park
Park Phone949-923-2235

A Laguna Coast Wilderness Park hike transports you into how coastal California had existed thousands of years ago. You’ll hike through some of the last untouched coastal canyons in California, enjoying pristine coastal sage scrub, ridges with panoramic views, and abundant wildlife, including over 40 endangered species. This hike through Laguna Coast Wilderness Park takes you over the best trails, and you’ll get a taste of all the types of scenery that the park has to offer.

Laguna Canyon Wilderness Liveforever
Keep your eyes open for the Laguna Liveforever, an endangered and rare succulent that you can only find in this area. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has lots of them. Photo USFWS

All 7000 acres and 40 miles of trails at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park are part of the Natural Community Conservation Planning program. The state program works with county and local governments to protect land with fragile ecosystems and endangered species.  You can learn more about all abundant plants and animals when you start he hike at the Nix Nature Center, which has volunteers and interpretive displays, and lists of recent wildlife sightings.

Where is Laguna Coast Wilderness Park?

Use this trailhead address: 18751 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651, USA.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is open from 8am to 5pm. The parking lot usually fills up by 9am on weekends, and they will close the lot if it’s full. Pay for parking at the machine and leave the ticket on your dashboard.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike parking
Pay for Laguna Coast Wilderness Park parking at the pay station with cash, credit card, or OC Parks pass, and put the receipt on your windshield.

The Nix Nature Center, located at the end of the parking lot, has free trail maps, bathrooms, and a place to fill up on water. Stop by, sign the registry (mandatory), and take a look at the wildlife spotting board. Even if there’s no endangered species around when you visit, there will probably be plenty of hawks, mule deer, weasels, and falcons.

Gear for the Hike

While you can get away with fitness clothes, I do recommend wearing hiking gear. It’s a long-ish hike and it can get very hot during the day. Here’s what I bring:

My Top Gear Picks

Garmin inreach review

Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:

  1. Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
  2. Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
  3. Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.

I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.

See My Full Gear List

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Trail Maps

There other hiking trails in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. If you want a shorter (or longer) hike, the rangers in Nix Nature Center can help you out. They’re great at putting hikes together to suit your parameters. And the trails on the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park hike are shared with mountain bikers and horses. Give them a wide berth and let them pass.

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.

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.

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike 3d map
The hike does a loop around Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, hitting the best viewpoints and picturesque laurel canyon.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike elevation
The two big hills are at the beginning and end. After that, it’s a lot of small up and down.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike Directions

Nix Nature Center
Before you start hiking, head into the Nix Nature Center to sign the trail register (mandatory).
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
Hike up the big, main trail from the Nix Nature Center.
Little Sycamore trail
Keep left at the beginning of the hike on the Little Sycamore trail.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
The trail quickly goes uphill, take your time.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
There are some flat sections of trail to catch your breath, but you’ll hike uphill again to the ridge.
Serrano Ridge trail
At about 1 mile, you reach the top of the ridge. Hike left onto Serrano Ridge trail.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike views
Soak in the best views at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park . On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mt Baldy and the big mountains.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail intersection
Keep hiking on Serrano Ridge trail. At about 2.4 miles, hike straight through the trail intersection.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
At 2.7 miles, keep left, staying on the trail along the highway.
 trail goes under the highway (73)
The trail goes under the highway (73).
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
Just before 3 miles, the trail ends in a “T” after the highway underpass. Hike to the left at the fork.
Laurel Canyon trail
Enjoy the gentle downhill on the Upper Laurel trail. At about 3.5 miles hike left onto the (smaller) Laurel Canyon trail.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike cliff
At about 3.8 miles, there will be a series of rock steps to the right of the trail leading to a cliff. It’s a good place to stop for a snack.
Stagecoach South trail
Continue down the shady trail, and at about 4.6 miles, hike the left onto the Stagecoach South trail.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
You hike back under the highway.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
Continue hiking across an open area. The trail is well defined here.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike trail
At about 6.1 miles, hike the right to stay on the Stagecoach South Trail. Keep hiking until the trail starts climbing again.
Nix Nature Center
After you hike to the top of the climb, you’ll see the Nix Nature Center below.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Hike end
And about 7.5 miles later, the trail ends where you started at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park parking lot.

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