Crystal Cove State Park: El Moro Loop Trail

Crystal Cove State Park is a beautiful area in Laguna Beach that includes 3 miles of coastline and dozens of miles of hiking trails. I set out to explore the most popular trail, the El Moro Loop Trail, which included hiking through a nice canyon and going along a ridge that overlooked the ocean. It was a great five-mile trail in Orange County and here is all the information.


  • 5 miles
  • 800 feet of elevation
  • $15 to enter the park

Getting There

Crystal Cove State Park is north of downtown Laguna Beach on Highway 1. You will see signs directing you to the park, and you will want to enter near the El Moro School. From there you will go through the pay station, pay your fee and then park down near where the beach parking is but up in the lot closer to the hills. There was plenty of parking when I went in the spring, but I am sure in the summer this area gets really busy.


Here is a video I made of the trail.

The Trail

From the parking lot, the trailhead is in the northeast part of the lot. There is a map here that you can take a photo of, but the trail is relatively straightforward as long as you take the right direction at the two splits.

The trail spends the first mile hiking through El Moro Canyon. This canyon is pretty, and there were lots of wildflowers when I went.

There is a creek as well, but there was no water. Note that this trail can be hot in the summer and that you are going to be walking a dirt road the entire way.

At the one mile mark, the trail will split, and you will want to head to the right and begin the uphill portion.

This part of the trail is where all of the uphill comes in and while it is not super steep since it is a dirt road park vehicles can drive, it will still get your blood pumping on the gradual incline.

About halfway up the hill is where you will begin to see the ocean peaking out from behind the hills in front of you.

The ocean is often blocked on this portion but it is nice to see when possible, and the best views of the ocean are further along on this trail.

Eventually, you will reach the top of the hill, and you will want to head right again to continue on the Moro Ridge Spur Trail.

This part of the trail is flat and uneventful for the first half mile.

Once the trail starts to head downhill, this is where the views start getting impressive.

I took my time on the downhill portion, taking tons of photos and just enjoying the fantastic Southern California coast.

Watch where you step on this section though as I saw two snakes while hiking through here.

As the trail gets back down close to the highway, you will see a small spur trail that will take you back to the parking lot.

All in all, this is a great coastal hike that is not too hard but which has fantastic views. If you have the full day, you can even spend some time at the beach as well when you are there. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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