/ The Orange County Guide
Orange County — By Abbie Mood on October 8, 2009 at 1:09 am

Take a Hike in the OC

This week I am highlighting my favorite places in Orange County (you can find the full list here).

El Moro Canyon in Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach (map)

El Moro is my favorite trail running location in all of Orange County because it never ceases to kick my butt.  The El Moro loop is an 8 mile trek that will take you all around Crystal Cove, but there are also shortcuts if you want less mileage.  There are several other loops to hike/run, or you could always go out and back – either way it’s no walk in the park!

You can pick up a free trail map at the Visitor’s Center, or just follow the signs posted at every intersection along the trails.


Note:  Parking at the Visitor’s Center is $10, but you can park across the street in the beach lot during the off season for free!

Motivation to finish – the ocean is just across the Pacific Coast Highway for a post-race foot soak.


Peter’s Canyon, Tustin (map)
Trail map

Starting from the parking lot off Peter’s Canyon Road you will find a relatively easy 3 mile hike around the lake with some decent views.  You can also extend the loop and get in some extra mileage.  If you want a challenge, head up “Big Red”, the steepest hill I’ve ever seen!

Aliso & Wood Canyons, Aliso Viejo (map)
Trail map

The trails here are shared by bikers and hikers alike.  There are opportunities for shorter out and backs, or try the 10 mile loop tour of the Wood Canyon area.  There are some hills, but the first 4-5 miles are pretty flat and easy.

Chino Hills, Yorba Linda (map)
Trail map

This is my second favorite place to run in Orange County.  There are some challenging loops or easier out and back routes.  The 6 mile loop is great to build up hill endurance – go down Easy Street, right at Telegraph Canyon, bear right at Four Corners, then right again at the South Ridge trail and you will end up back where you started!  It’s a great one to build up hill endurance!


These are just a few of the many trails that are found in Orange County.  A great book that includes trail maps and directions to the trails is Afoot & Afield Orange County by Jerry Schad.

If you are interested in joining a trail running group, check out Orange County Trail Runners or the SoCal Trail Headz.

What are your favorite trails in Orange County and beyond?

Photo Credits:
El Moro – Abbie Mood
Chino Hills – Jessica Deline

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