For a limited time only, save 30% on a year of AllTrails Pro!
Get Started
Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

El Moro Canyon Short Loop Trail is a 2.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Laguna Beach, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 2.9 mi Elevation gain 479 ft Route type Loop

Kid friendly

Hiking

Horseback riding

Mountain biking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Beach

Forest

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (12)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

Ocean views, insulated canyon, coast chaparral, wildflowers, and grasslands. Rapacious development comes up to the very fringes of this natural area, but dip into El Moro Canyon and you will find near solitude. The hike is best in the spring when wildflowers are in full bloom. This is open, mostly treeless country, so a hat and sun screen are a must. Bring your own water. You can take the loop either clockwise or counter-clockwise. If you travel counter clockwise the gentler "West Cut Across" is a better choice for the trip up the hill than the Poles trail. Those who go the other way can save about a mile by entering El Moro Canyon via the Poles Trail.

Crystal Cove State Park, 949-494-3539

These are multi-use trails shared with mountain bikers and horses. Keep alert and follow the clearly posted rules of the road. In warm months, it is not uncommon to run across a rattlesnake on the trail. Give them wide berth. It is also possible to see deer, bobcats, coyotes, rabbits and many other kinds of wildlife. The best time to catch a glimpse of wildlife is early in the morning before the trails get too busy. Bring plenty of water. There is no water available along this trail (other than at the visitor center). Most of the trail is unprotected, so a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen is also advised.

From Interstate 5, Southbound: Take the Laguna Beach exit. Head south to Laguna Beach. At the Pacific Coast Highway, turn right. Proceed 2.85 miles to the El Moro Canyon turnoff (just past El Moro School.) From Interstate 5, Northbound: Take the El Toro Road exit. Head south on El Toro until it ends at Laguna Canyon. Turn left on Laguna Canyon. Continue to Pacific Coast Highway where you will turn right. Proceed 2.85 miles to the El Moro Canyon turnoff (just past El Moro School.)

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (489)
Photos (706)
Recordings (509)
Completed (1856)
Carlos Bonilla
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
Hiking

No shade... steep hills... bring water

View Carlos's Recording
masa koizumi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

It’s ok, not shade at all.

View masa's Recording
Cherie Ludwick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 22, 2020
Hiking

This trail is the right distance, nice and wide, but predominantly up hill then down. Not much shade. It does have beautiful views of the ocean and a nice breeze when we went. It’s a true loop so you will finish where you started. There were plenty of people on the trail. Very enjoyable.

Joel dG
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 20, 2020
Hiking

During the pandemic, been visiting this trail often with our kids- 15, 12, 10. The first time we went from the upper parking lot near the ranger station- if you loop it from there, you decent down the “poles” part of the trail is harder in the knees. We now start from the lower parking lot past the campground ranger hut, nearer the tunnel to the beach. If you begin here, you will hike up “poles” which is a great upward workout. Gets your heart pumping and legs burning. I highly recommend these trails during the week if possible. Last weekend was our first time on a Sunday (8 am) and I have never seen so many people on the trails! If you like it quiet, don’t go on a Sunday morning/ afternoon. As the morning progressed it just got busier to the point where the parking lot was closed due to the full lot. Masks were worn by some but not all. Everyone is pleasant and mindful.

Mary Jadwin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 20, 2020
HikingFeeNo shade

You get to enjoy an ocean breeze- and view- if you take the short loop entrance closer to the entrance of the parking lot, loop around and do a STEEP climb up the poles- the view down hill (to the parking lot) was worth it. We went at sunset on a Sunday evening, not crowded, saw 4 different coyotes, many quail families and rabbits, a roadrunner- meep meep, and hummingbirds. The canyon must be beautiful in the spring when everything is blooming and there is water in the creek!

Brendan Sandfer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020

Asked Kat to marry me, she said yes!!!

View Brendan's Recording
Tim Topper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 11, 2020
HikingFeeNo shade

Great early morning hike with ocean and hill views. There’s $15 fee which can be paid via the State Parks app or on site with credit card making this an easy, quick hike!

View Tim's Recording
M C.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 10, 2020
HikingNo shade
View M's Recording
Kristina Adrineda
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 10, 2020
Hiking

My first ever hike in Orange County. Had so much new experience, I've been hiking for so long this hike still got me few of my first time. The hike going up is hard but the end view and breeze as we get close to the end of our hike. The amazing sunset. I highly recommend going in the afternoon around 4 or 5. It's not too hot but it's a perfect time if you wanna see the amazing sunset. As you're starting your hike, go straight first and take that trail if you're doing the loop. An amazing finish is waiting for you.

View Kristina's Recording
Laidlaw Residence
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 29, 2020
HikingBugsFee
View Laidlaw's Recording
Alexandre Martinez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 25, 2020
Nature trips

Parking is expensive, $15. Trail is nice when cloudy otherwise there is no shade.

View Alexandre's Recording
Fabian User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 10, 2020
HikingFeeNo shade

theyres a parking fee so bring money, bring comfy shoes lots of incline and a hat and sunscreen because there's no shade over all super easy after the beginning. super easy hike for me.

View Fabian's Recording
Jorge Blanco Cano
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 7, 2020
HikingNo shade
View Jorge's Recording
Nikki Sherman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 22, 2020
HikingMuddy

Nice evening walk... did it backwards (so it seemed compared to others) which was nice .. had a slow ascent and steep decent ..

View Nikki's Recording
Dave Delaria
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 17, 2020
Hiking

We went out on the trail around 9am and although the parking lot was completely full, there were so many trails that we weren’t surrounded by tons of people. Weather in February was absolutely amazing. Low 60s so the fact that there was no shade wasn’t an issue. We went counter clockwise so when we got to Poles, we were headed uphill. It was taxing to say the least! However, when we got to the top of the half mile incline, we all felt that we accomplished something! Clean trail, no trash. Great hike!!!!

McCall Miller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 8, 2020
HikingBugsFee

Great views and very helpful ranger station!

View McCall's Recording
Crystal Snyder
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 2, 2020
Hiking

I LOVED this trail! We were not expecting the inclines to be as difficult as they were, it was very nice to be able to create our own path back to the car but still hike 4 miles. We will come back more prepared and earlier when it’s not so hot!

View Crystal's Recording
Megan M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 26, 2020
HikingBugsFeeNo shade

I went on this trail yesterday (1-25-20) in the afternoon with my friend. It's a good trail for a beginner like me and my friend if you want to start building up your endurance. Accidentally started opposite end of the trail, so I would recommend actually starting at the correct entrance because once we reach the poles, we had to go up the hill rather than down which was pretty tough for us beginners haha. It best to go early in the morning or when it is overcast since there is no shade. We were lucky enough to go when it was slightly overcast. Just a heads if you never been to this area, parking will be $15.

Michelle Bulkley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 25, 2020
HikingFeeNo shade
View Michelle's Recording
Rudy Rivera
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 18, 2020
HikingMuddy
View Rudy's Recording
Aakriti Kumar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 12, 2020
HikingNo shade
Michelle Holloway-Barcelos
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 5, 2020
HikingFee

This trail had gorgeous views! There were a few places that were muddy but easy to avoid. Someone posted a tip about parking at the Trader Joe’s nearby if you want to avoid the fee. We did that and realized it was not worth saving the $15 parking because you have to walk for quite a while on busy PCH with cars zooming by and no sidewalk. It would have been ok if it were just adults but we had 4 kids with us. It didn’t feel safe at all. There are some nice picnic benches to sit at for a snack with restrooms and a sink to refill your water bottle.

Showing results 1 - 22 of 489