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O.C. Secret Spot: Take the Long Way to Salt Creek Beach

Salt Creek Beach offers spectacular beauty—for those who know the best way to get there.

Getting to Salt Creek Beach is definitely half the fun. There's an eight-mile paved trail that ambles through sections of wild California chaparral and along the Ritz Carlton golf course, all the way to the beautiful grassy hills of the park overlooking Salt Creek Beach.

Training for the Dana Point Turkey Trot This hilly running/walking trail is the perfect place for it.

You can pick up the trail at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel. Walking past the baseball fields to the edge of the park, you will spot a paved trail nestled against the hill. (See photos attached). Follow it for about a mile until you pass underneath Niguel Road.

Stay to the right here (the path forks) and head up the hill and through a beautiful, wild-growing canyon with an ocean view. After another mile and a half or so you will pass under Del Avion, and from there the trail meanders along the golf course. Follow the signs for Salt Creek beach after you pass under PCH.

The views of Salt Creek are stunning, and the path continues each direction along the beach, where you can spot Dana Point and can continue to Strands Beach. After spending some time looking at the views or visiting Salt Creek’s snack bar (open during the summer months), you can pick up the same trail back to Chapparosa again, going back the same way you came.

The whole path is well-trafficked by humans—and an occasional rattlesnake, so keep your dog leashed! It's also well-maintained, and can be a great afternoon bike ride for the whole family.

To find Chapparosa Park:

Exit Crown Valley Parkway from the 5 freeway and drive west. 

Make a left on Cabot Road, a right on Paseo De Colinas, and left at Golden Lantern. After about a mile and a half you will make a right into Chapparosa Park Road.

About the trail:

  • Paved (with a few sections with dirt trails beside the paved trail)
  • Dog friendly (with leash)
  • About eight miles round-trip
  • Lots of hills in some sections, mostly flat
  • Mostly without shade, so bring sunscreen and a hat
  • Great views of bluffs at the beach and plenty of natural vegetation along the trail
Meander September 20, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Going out to take a meander with a couple of (leashed) dogs right now!
Hugh Armstrong September 20, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Thanks for this article - It is great to have information about local places to hike or visit.

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