6 Best Orange County Ocean-View Trails

What’s better than hiking an Orange County ocean-view trail? Absolutely nothing! Here are 6 of my favorites, both easy and moderate trails included. Pack some water and a snack, try one of these and tell us what you think!

Best Orange County Ocean-View Trails

1. Crystal Cove – Moderate – 9 Miles

Crystal Cove State Park, located between Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach, offers 18 miles of trails in native wilderness. Hike the 9 mile perimeter of the park on a clear day, to see all the way from the San Gabriel Mountains to Catalina Island. Restrooms in campsites are open to the public. No dogs allowed. Click here for directions.

Crystal Cove Hiking Trails
Photo: Jung Park

2. Ridgeline Trail – Moderate – 3 TO 5.7 Miles

6 different starting points make San Clemente’s Ridgeline trail a great choice for beginning to moderate level hikers. Leashed dogs allowed. The trail is paved and features ocean-views from Dana Point to San Diego County. Click here for directions.

Ridgeline Trail

3. Colinas Bluff Trail – Moderate – 6.5 Miles

Get ready to share the path – runners, hikers, cyclists, dogs and horses are all welcome on this trail, located between Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano. The steep inclines provide a great workout with spectacular ocean and mountain views. On a clear day, you can see all the way from Santiago Peak to Catalina Island. Shade is sporadic. Hats and sunblock are recommended. Click here for directions.

4. Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve – Easy – 3 Miles

Hikers are welcome to visit Upper Newport Bay and learn of its important ecological preserve. The bluffs which surround the wetlands house 3 species of sensitive birds (California Gnatcatcher, San Diego Cactus Wren and Burrowing Owl) and ocean sage scrub.

The wetlands provide a habitat to endangered bird species like the Peregrine Falcon
Photo: Diane Olivier

The wetlands provide a critical habitat to endangered or scarce plant, birds and animals. Birdwatchers will enjoy the thousands of birds that make a crucial stop here during their long winter migration, as well as the habitat 6 endangered bird species including:

  • Light Footed Clapper Rail
  • Brown Pelican
  • Belding’s Savannah Sparrow
  • Black Rail
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • California Least Turn

Dogs are allowed on leashes, and parking is free. Click here for directions.

5. Aliso Summit Trail – Easy – 1.5 Miles

This trail lands on the easy list, but beware. The trail, though short in length, runs steep. The incline will definitely get your heart rate up. A bench sits at the top of this Orange County ocean-view hiking trail, allowing hikers to relax and enjoy the scenery. The entrance is located at the end of Seaview Park in Laguna Niguel. Click here for directions.

6. Car Wreck Trail – Easy – 3.8 Miles

This trail in Laguna comes complete with intrigue and mystery. Just how did the 1946 Dodge 5 passenger coupe get there? We may never know. Theories float around about hippies and concerts, cars stalling then getting washed down hills during heavy flooding – but who knows? This hike not only takes you past the old wrecked car. It stops at Top of the World, with fantastic views of the California coastline. For directions, click here.

Hiking is one of the best ways to discover gorgeous California. Whether you live here or are planning a visit, schedule it in!

Published by Michelle Kratzer

I like to write. I love the ocean. I live for babies and dogs and giggles.