The Colinas Bluff trail is a great mixed-use double-track trail that follows the Colinas ridge between Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano. It’s a suburban trail with terrific, sweeping 360 degree views from Santiago Peak (or the San Gabriel mountains, when it’s clear) to the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
I like this trail because it’s convenient for after work conditioning hikes during daylight savings time. Because it’s an out-and-back route, you can adjust the length to suit the time and distance you want. The geography of the trail lends itself well to two variations: the full 6.7 mile hike and an abbreviated 4.6 miler.
Time: ~1.5 – 2.5 hours
Elevation gain: 1,570 ft (full version)
When to go: Year round
Once you reach the ridge, the trail goes up and down a few smaller hills in roller coaster fashion. There is one fairly big hill at mile 2.3. The top of this hill gives you great 360 degree views, and marks the turnaround point for the abbreviated 4.6 mile version.
If you want to do the full 6.7 miles, you’ll continue down the other side of that big hill, where the trail skirts the behind the McMansions of Bear Brand. At 3.35 miles, you’ll reach the top of another hill with paved walks and benches facing every direction. This is your turnaround point for the full version.
- Bring water and sun protection.
- Trail runners are fine, though I’d recommend boots when it’s wet and muddy.
- There just so happens to be a Starbucks at that corner, with a nice big patio that makes a great meeting place before or after your hike.
- The trail is wide and well maintained, and shared by bikers, trail runners and dog walkers, so keep your eyes peeled. And I’ve heard that people have seen rattlesnakes here. I haven’t seen any, but I would watch where you step.
- Portions of the trail pass behind resident’s backyards; be mindful of your noise level if hiking in a group.
Trail Map and Elevation Profile
Hike with the SoCal Hiker
I lead a hike on this trail most Monday evenings during daylight savings time. Check the postings in the Hiking OC meetup group for details or to sign-up for a hike.
[textbox rows=”5″]Colinas Bluff Trail
THE PARTICULARS: This is a great conditioning hike. The Colinas Bluff trail starts on the east side of Golden Lantern and follows the ridge south along the boundaries of San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel. We follow the trail high above the 5 freeway and are treated to gorgeous vistas of south OC, Dana Point Harbor, and on clear days Catalina Island. This is a popular trail with equestrians and the occasional mountain biker so always be aware of your surroundings. The trail is a mixture of dirt and mulch; trail shoes are perfectly fine for this kind of hike, though you may prefer hiking boots.
DEPARTURE TIME: ENTER TIME HERE. Please show up 5-10 minutes early for parking and introductions.
DISTANCE: 6.7 miles intermediate to advanced level – Approximately 2 Hours.
GOOD TO KNOW: I suggest you bring one liter of water; however, you know your body better than anyone and how much fluids you need in order to be comfortable on this hike. There are also many rolling hills on this hike — and one rather steep climb! — so be sure you are comfortable with hiking on varied terrain. Rain will cancel this hike.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the corner of Marina Hills and Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel (map). We’ll meet at the outside courtyard next to Starbucks. Park between McDonalds and Starbucks.
Trip information courtesy of SoCal Hiker[/url], your local trail guide.[/textbox]
Have fun, be safe, and see you on the trail!