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Laguna Ridge: Quiet, Half-Hour Hike By the Ocean

Looking for a short, dog-friendly hike? Look no further than the Laguna Ridge Trail—the views here can't be beat!

Ever feel like a hike, but can’t clear your schedule for the whole day?

The Laguna Ridge Trail is a section of the Aliso Summit Trail that offers access to hilltop ocean views, easy or more challenging jaunts, and even Thai food—more about the Thai food later.

  • This trail is located overlooking Laguna Beach on the edge of Laguna Niguel.
  • It's dog-friendly.
  • Expect hardly anyone at virtually any time of day.

The trail extends out toward the ocean with panoramic views of Saddleback Mountain, Laguna Beach, Catalina Island, and Aliso Canyon. Walking the trail can take no longer than 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how long you stand transfixed, staring at the enormous ocean unfolding below you.

Getting There

So often the secret trails offer the best experiences. This is true for the Laguna Ridge Trail. There’s no parking lot, no signs pointing the way, and the trail is only modestly marked, keeping things pretty quiet. The hilltop trailhead is located in Laguna Niguel, and is situated adjacent to a quiet neighborhood of houses along the coastal hills.

To get there from the I-5:

  • Exit on Crown Valley Parkway and drive about 3.5 miles to Alicia Parkway
  • Turn right and look for Pacific Island Drive and turn left. 
  • As you reach the top of the hill, keep your eye out for Talavera Drive, and turn right. 
  • Parking is available along the green belt just before the cul-de-sac on Talavera Drive.

The Hike

For an easier stroll or perhaps a picnic, walk straight out on the trail till you find an overlook spot up against a railing. This marks the end of the flat, leisurely section of the trail, and offers great views of Aliso Canyon and Catalina Island.

If you’re up for a less groomed and steeper walk (this is where the Thai food comes in), veer slightly to the left at the overlook to find the small Toovelt Trail, which will take you down a steep hill. Walk carefully here—there are loose rocks and sand, and keep an eye out for the occasional rattlesnake sunning himself. Follow this trail until you see a fork—for Thai food, turn left, for magnificent ocean views, turn right. 

Thai Food Dinner/Lunch Option

To find the Thai restaurant, turn left at the fork in the trail to head down Valido Trail. Hike all the way down along the creek to a neighborhood that will spit you out right onto PCH. Cross PCH (with caution!) and head south to grab a bite at the delicious . You'll want to eat a lot, and you probably shouldn't—it’s a steep but rewarding hike back up to the car.

The Overlook

To reach the overlook point, stay to the right at the fork and continue along the Toovelt Trail. After 1/3 mile or so, you will reach a steep incline that will lead you up to a lone bench overlook spot. Catch your breath, stare in awe, or spread out the picnic blanket, and be sure to snap some pictures with the huge ocean behind you.

The trail is steep and unshaded, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. It can be a great, short workout for both you and your dog, and would be a prime place to watch the sunset with a special someone.

This is just one of the many special spots on the Aliso Summit Trail. For a map of the different sections of the trail, visit the Laguna Niguel website.

Meander June 07, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I never knew the name of this trail, nor it's offshoots. Thanks for them, and for such a good and thorough description of the experience. It brings to mind many a fine early morning or late afternoon jaunt out to the bench where the dog is sitting!

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