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Hiking the Colinas Bluff Trail

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Colinas Bluff

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.

The Trailhead

Trail Details
Distance: 4.5 – 6.7 miles
Time: ~1.5 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,570 ft (full version)
Dogs: OK
When to go: Year round
The trailhead begins across the street from the Marina Hills shopping center, at the corner of Marina Hills Drive and Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel. I park in the shopping center and meet my hiking partners outside Starbucks. From there, you’ll cross Golden Lantern and head south about 50 yards, where the trail begins on your left.

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.

View toward the mountains

Trail Map and Elevation Profile

Download file: colinas-bluff.gpx



Have fun, be safe, and see you on the trail!

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