The trails in the Laguna Canyon area are a hiker’s paradise just a stone’s throw from the ocean and the city of Laguna Beach in Orange County. It has all the beauty and benefits that coastal Southern California has to offer.
There are four different staging areas for the trails in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. They are the Nix Nature Center at Little Sycamore Canyon, the Willow Canyon and Laurel Canyon entrance, the James Dilley Preserve, and Big Ben which is for equestrian use only.
The Willow Canyon hike is long, beautiful and only moderately difficult. First is the climb up either Willow Canyon Trail or Laurel Canyon Hike to Bommer Ridge Road. The trails are abundant with foliage and the initial part of the hike is an excellent workout. Once you get to the top of the ridge the trail levels out, though there are still mild climbs all along Bommer Ridge heading south.
The view from the ridge is spectacular, spanning the lush, green hills of the coast. As you continue south you can see some of the homes in the Laguna Hills area to the east and the highways off in the distance. Just past the area where Bommer Ridge Road splits into three trails is a clear view of the ocean. At this point you can take Laguna Bowl Road, Water Tank Road, or Boat Road and end up in the city of Laguna Beach at Pacific Coast Highway. The entire hike one way is about 4 to 5 miles.
The entrance to Willow Canyon Road is off Highway 133 just south of where El Toro Road hits the highway. Willow Canyon Road splits into Willow Canyon Trail and Laurel Canyon Hike, both of which lead to Bommer Ridge Road and from there south to the ocean. Willow Canyon trail is a steep but quick climb fit for hiking or mountain biking, whereas Laurel Canyon Hike is a hiking only trail. The cost to park is $3 and the parking lot is open daily from 8am to 5pm. For more information check out OC Parks.