Top Of The World Hike Laguna Beach

Top of the World Hike (Laguna Beach)

In This Guide
  • Video & Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • How to Get to the Top of the World Hike
  • Everything You Need to Know To Prepare for the Hike
Total Distance2.4 miles (3.9 km)
Hike Time2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)890 feet (271m)
Highest Elevation1,020 feet (311m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Park Phone949-923-2200

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

Top Of The World Hike Directions 1
There is limited parking on the side of the street.

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.

La Sportiva Spire

The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: WomenMen

Opsrey Stratos Blue

I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) 

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 2020.

My September 2020 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 offset website expenses. 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.

Click Here To View Map

Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

Your best move to navigate this hike is to take a paper map, compass, and a GPS device. Load the GPX track from this hike onto your GPS to ensure that you’re on the trail. I’m a big fan of GPS watches; I just glance down at it to cross-check my position and use paper when I want a deeper dive. The GPS watch that I’m using now is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (price: REI or Amazon). It’s pricey but has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of other wellness, fitness, and smart-watch applications. For a more affordable option, check out the value-packed Garmin Instinct  (price: REI or Amazon), a similar watch without some of the features. There are also great smartphone GPS apps like GaiaGPS. If you end up getting GaiaGPS premium, I’ve arranged for a 20-40% discount for my readers.

Elevation Profile

Top Of The World Hike Elevation
Here’s the one-way elevation profile, which is pretty much straight up. Toward the end you get a few respites.

3D Map

Top Of The World Hike 3d Map
Here you can see how the Canyon Acres Trail climbs straight up to Top of the World. At the top you make a little loop to reach the actual summit.

Top of the World Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn Directions

Top Of The World Hike Directions 2
Look for the trail at the very end of Canyon Acres Drive.
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Head through the gate area.
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The trail winds around to the left. Stay on the main path and avoid any small side trails.
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And once around the bend you’ll see this gate in front of you, which marks the official start of the trail.
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Right after the gate you’ll find some signs and a trail marker confirming that you are on the Canyon Acres Trail. From here on out you’ll be in Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park.
Top Of The World Hike Directions 7
From the gun the trail is steep. There are no switchbacks; you are pretty much going straight up.
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Shortly after the start you’ll see a side trail to the left, which leads to a little overlook. Go straight. There will be plenty of great views when you get to the top.
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The side loop trail joins back in from the left. Head right up the main Canyon Acres Trail.
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This shot gives you an idea of how steep the climb is. You don’t get a breather until higher up.
Top Of The World Hike Directions 11
But you can always stop and turn around to catch your breath. At this point you’ll start getting nice views of the ocean.
Top Of The World Hike Directions 12
Avoid the side trail to the right and continue left on the main trail.
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And soon after that you’ll see Top of the World (where the antenna is)  in front of you. Almost there.
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Once you’re at this point the views will open up and continue to the top. Here’s Saddleback Mountain.
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And back behind you, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see Catalina Island.
Top Of The World Hike Directions 16
The trail alternates flat with steep sections allowing you to take a breather.
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You’ll be able to see Rt 133 in the canyon down to your left.
Top Of The World Hike Directions 18
When the Canyon Acres Trail ends, make the right.
Top Of The World Hike Directions 19
You’ll be rewarded with a flat section offering ocean views. Keep bearing left on the main trail, avoiding and trails to the right or small side trails in either direction. We’ll be going to the top of the hill in the distance.
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Then the trail ends, make the hard left to hike the last stretch to the Top of the World.
Top Of The World Hike 99
The trail winds up to the left side of the hill.
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And here you are, Top of the World!
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In addition to Saddleback Mountain and Catalina, on a clear day you can see up to Mt Baldy and Angeles National Forest too.

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.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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