Crystal Cove State Park

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• Rattlesnakes      


Los Trancos Area

 Historic Beach and Bluffs (dayhike) Easy 3.5 miles
Synopsis: This is fun walk with good variety. You initially walk through the historic Crystal Cove beach cottages, past the well-known - and usually quite crowded - Beachcomber restaurant, then up the beautiful beach. On the way back you climb stairs to the bluff trail and generally follow PCH back to your car. We've done this hike as a way to work off breakfast at the Beachcomber, but you could also reverse the direction and have lunch (be sure to get a reservation or be prepared to wait) at the end of your walk.

Moro Canyon Area (beach lot)

 Berns Environmental Loop (P.O.I.)  Easy 0.1 miles
Synopsis: This is a nice, short trail that's great for kids or the elderly. There are some interesting displays and plenty of shade. The loop is tucked into a little canyon and includes a small amphitheatre. A good spot for lunch or just a break.
 Crystal Cove Beach (dayhike) Easy-Moderate 3.8 miles
Synopsis: This is an easy walk along a beautiful beach, followed by a few flights of stairs and a relaxed stroll back along the bluffs before returning to the beach. And if you're wise enough to arrange for reservations at the Beachcomber restaurant ahead of time, you can take a break right in the middle and have an excellent breakfast or lunch.
 Moro Canyon / Bommer / West Cut-across (dayhike) Moderate-Difficult  9.2 miles 
Synopsis: The first half of this hike travels though Moro Canyon which offers shade and interesting plant-life. As you climb out of the canyon views to the ocean, and eventually to the eastern valleys, open up. The return trip follows a somewhat environmentally impacted ridge before returning to the canyon for the last mile. On the weekends expect plenty of biking, hiking, and running company.   
 Moro Canyon / East Cut Across (dayhike)  Moderate 4.7 miles
Synopsis: The park's materials refer to this hike as the Green Route. It's a nice hike with excellent scenery and ocean breezes. Crystal Cove can be crowded, especially on the weekends, so expect to encounter other hikers and bikers (and little wildlife). Coast views are beautiful, and on clear days the inland vistas can be spectacular as well. For an apres-hike cool-off, it's a short walk to the west end of the parking area where you can cross under Pacific Coast Highway to a terrific beach.
 Moro Canyon / Moro Ridge (dayhike)   Moderate 8.7 miles
Synopsis: An enjoyable and stimulating hike, especially on clear days (good views inland to the mountains and west to the ocean). When it's hot, Crystal Cove's sea breezes can sometimes offer respite (especially on the ridges). This trip takes you through the sage-scrub and oaks of Moro Canyon, then gradually ascends the sides of the canyon to meet the ridges. The return along Moro Ridge is a pleasurable, undulating stroll though more sage brush before dropping steeply to meet the B.F.I. and a quick stroll to your car. Since you've already paid, consider walking to the other end of the lot and under Pacific Coast Highway in order to cool off on the beach.
 Moro Canyon / Rattlesnake (dayhike)   Moderate-Difficult 8 miles
Synopsis: A good length hike on two of the nicer trails in Crystal Cove. Moro Canyon takes through some pretty wooded areas on the way to a steep climb on Elevator trail. You return on Rattlesnake trail, an enjoyable ridgeline single-track with nice plant communities, interesting rock formations and good views.
 Rattlesnake / Ticketron (dayhike)   Moderate-Difficult 7.4 miles
Synopsis: Rattlesnake and Ticketron trails make up a significant portion of a loop within Crystal Cove that sees less traffic than the more accessible and easier trails. As a result it's possible to find a relative bit of solitude on these pretty and less environmentally impacted paths. Rattlesnake climbs steeply to follow a ridge before dropping into Deer Canyon on Ticketron.
Moro Canyon Area (upper lot)    
 Coast to Cove shuttle I (dayhike) Moderate-Difficult 9 miles
Synopsis: This is a shuttle hike between two southern California parks. The trip begins at the Nix Nature Center in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and ends next to the coast in Crystal Cove State Park. There is plenty of interesting habitat along the way and lots of great views. Plan on having company on the weekend, and when you're done check out the Shake Shack about a mile north on the coast highway.
 Coast to Cove shuttle II (dayhike) Moderate-Difficult 9.5 miles
Synopsis: This is another shuttle hike between Laguna Coast Wilderness and Crystal Cove parks. As with the first, the trip begins at the Nix Nature Center in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and ends next to the coast in Crystal Cove State Park. This trip, however, adds an interesting detour along the newly opened Lizard Trail in Laguna Coast WP. It's a nice little single track digression from the usual Laguna Coast trails, but beware of bikes.
 No Dogs / East Cut-across (dayhike) Moderate 5.7 miles
Synopsis: This is a hike that travels both main ridges of the park by connecting through Moro Canyon. Much of the trip is exposed to the sun, so it's a good one to save for a cooler day, but the views are excellent most of the time. Crystal Cove is a popular park, so it's unlikely you'll find solitude here, but on clear, cool days, the ocean views are worth every step. 
 No Dogs / Poles / Moro Canyon (dayhike) Easy-Moderate 2.8 miles
Synopsis: Crystal Cove is a busy park on the weekends. This is a fairly short, and mostly easy (except for the climb at the beginning and a very steep descent down Poles trail) hike. The views of the ocean are excellent, and the walk through Moro Canyon is usually quite nice. But unless you're here on a weekday, expect plenty of company.   
 No Name Ridge / Missing Link / Moro Ridge (dayhike)     Moderate-Difficult 9 miles
Synopsis: This is essentially a circumnavigation of Crystal Cove State Park (there are a few smaller park areas outside this loop). In the right season it can be quite a nice hike with views of the beaches and surrounding hills (and suburbs). Some stretches - like along No Name Ridge - can be uninteresting and tedious at other times. But Moro Ridge is always a pretty and enjoyable hike, culminating in tremendous views of the ocean and Laguna Beach near the end of the hike. If you feel you've earned it, stop for a Date Shake (or one of many other flavors) at the famous Shake Shack along PCH just north of the park entrance.

All photos and video by Laura or Bob Camp unless otherwise indicated. Use without permission is not cool.