Done at a brisk pace (3.5 miles per hour) hiking the Las Ramblas trail makes a great early morning workout. There are some steep hills and sweeping vistas of the coastline from Dana Point to Oceanside, and Santiago Peak and the Santa Anas to the east. The trail follows dirt double track, but the junctions are not all well marked. You can hike this year-round, though avoid it in (and immediately after) heavy rain, unless you enjoy carrying an extra 10 pounds of mud on your shoes.
Time: ~1 hour
Elevation gain: 900 ft
When to go: Year round
This trail is shared by horses and mountain bikers, and dogs are okay. I have spotted deer, rattlesnakes and even one bobcat on previous hikes in these hills.
The best times to hike these hills are early morning and early evening, mainly because there is no shade and the views are all the more spectacular at sunrise and sunset.
Trail Map and Elevation Profile
Looking to hike this trail with others? There are two groups that post early morning 6am hikes on this trail pretty regularly, often on Tuesday and Thursday mornings: Crystal Cove Cardio and Hiking OC (both on Meetup.com). Both groups are free to join, and provide a great way to experience the trail for the first time.