Top of the World Hike (Laguna Beach)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||2.4 miles (3.9 km)|
|Hike Time||2 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||890 feet (271m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,020 feet (311m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park|
There are big payoffs on the short but steep Top of the World hike in Laguna Beach. You’ll climb through the coastal scrub of Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park until you reach the panoramic vista at Top of the World. From there, you’ll have views from Catalina Island to Mt Baldy, and there’s even a bench where you can soak it all in.
Laguna Beach changed the trailhead parking and is now ticketing. It is not safe to park at the trailhead unless you have resident permit. Try the Car Wreck hike instead, which offers a stop at Top of the World.
If you just want to visit Top of the World without breaking a sweat, you can simply drive to Alta Laguna Park and stroll over to it. But if you want to get a short hike in too, this guide will get you there.
Where Is the Top of the World Trailhead?
Parking for the hike is at the end of Canyon Acres Drive in a residential section of Laguna Beach. The parking is limited, but the trail isn’t too popular, so you can usually find a spot. Just be conscious of the no parking zones and driveways, and please be respectful of the residents. The good news is that parking is free.
Use this trailhead address:
580 Canyon Acres Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Gear for the Hike
Don’t try this hike in casual clothes. At the very least wear fitness gear with good footwear. If you can, wear hiking shoes or boots and bring trekking poles for the steep climb and descent. There is no shade on the hike and it can get very hot. Bring 1L of water and stay hydrated.
Better Than a Selfie Stick
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.
Your Biggest Asset If You Get Lost
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. Now smartphones have lights, but they drain the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in an expensive yet high-quality headlamp like the Black Diamond Astro 250. 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.
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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 $20 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.
Get It Here
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated October 2021.
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.
Top of the World Trail Maps
Overall the Canyon Acres Trail is wide and easy to follow. There are a few junctions to be aware of, but if you use this guide, you will fine.
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?
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 6. 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.
Top of the World Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
From here you just go back down the way you came. If you need to use a bathroom, pop over to Alta Laguna Park, just a minute or two from Top of the World.
This guide last updated on July 1, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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