San Clemente’s Ridgeline Trail is a great little 4.7 mile out-and-back hike along a ridgeline above the city. The trail is suburban and paved, making it a great choice for rainy weather when you don’t want to slog through the mud but you still want to get your heart pumping. And the ocean and mountain views are terrific.
Though it’s not a wildnerness trail, the Ridgeline Trail has a fair amount of roller-coaster hills, and a total elevation gain of 1,545 feet. Because it follows the ridgeline, you get great views in every direction. You can see Dana Point marina, Santiago and Modjeska peaks, and on clear days, Catalina and San Clemente islands.
There is one point along the path where you cross Calle del Cerro and jog about 30 yards uphill to the trail on the other side, but other than that, the path is clearly marked. The water tower is your turnaround point. Stretch, enjoy the coastal views, and head back to the beginning.