Crystal Cove State Park is one of my favorite areas to hike in Orange County. Nestled in the coastal hills between Newport and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove feels like a world away from the OC. There are beautiful bluff-lined beaches, challenging hikes and panoramic coastal views. You can even go backpacking! Crystal Cove State Park is one of OC’s best kept secrets.
Hiking at Crystal Cove State Park
There is a network of mixed use trails throughout Crystal Cove State Park. Hikers share the trails with mountain bikers and the occasional horse. From that network of trails, you can create a hike to suit your ability and schedule.
There are three main loops that have been mapped out, with something for each level of hiker.
- The Green Route is a moderate three mile hike with some good hills and
- The Red Route is an intermediate hike. But it’s no slouch. The considerable elevation gain makes this hike a great workout!
- The Blue Route is the longest of the three, and traces the perimeter of the park’s interior. At over nine miles, this hike takes some time, plenty of water and is not recommended for new hikers.
SoCal Hiker Crystal Cove Tips
- During inclement weather, the park closes. Call (949) 494-3539 to check conditions.
- Parking is $15, but if you show your receipt from The Beachcomber, there’s no charge. During the summer when it stays light out longer, you can also park for free after the Ranger Station closes (around 6pm). Perfect for a weeknight evening hike.
- Many people park for free and hike or mountain bike into the park from
- You can also hike into the park from neighboring Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, where the parking is $3. Or park on the street near Gate 12 for free!
- Do NOT try to park at the elementary school or Trader Joe’s parking lot unless you like having your car ticketed or even towed.
- After your hike, stop at the Shake Shack for a well-earned treat with a great views.