El Moro Canyon Short Loop Trail

MODERATE 139 reviews
#3 of 21 trails in

El Moro Canyon Short Loop Trail is a 2.8 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.

2.8 miles
439 feet

kid friendly



horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running






wild flowers


no dogs

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.

1 day ago

Loved this trail. All trail mapping is fantastic. So many times I could got lost.

4 days ago

Pretty busy. If you start on the north side the incline is very intense and long: my kids were not pleased (4/6) and had to be carried. Trail shoots up then drops down to a flat valley with lots of blooming poison oak right along the trail. State park should remove or control it (it’s everywhere).

5 days ago

Nice family hike.

The most difficult part is crossing through Poles trail, which is a steep incline of just under half a mile. I would definitely recommend doing the trail counterclockwise, which would mean taking the incline uphill, but will give you a beautiful ocean view the rest of the way. Well worth the climb.

1 month ago

I'm not sure who decides the difficulty level for these trails, but I felt like this was on the higher side of "moderate".

We parked in at Visitor's Center. You have to pay for parking - $5/hour or $15/day, but they don't let you pay hourly on the weekends.

Since it's a loop, you can do this trail two ways. We headed South from the Visitor Center to the El Moro Canyon Trail, followed that up the canyon to where it meets Poles and Jeep Trails. This part of the hike was relatively easy, with a slight incline.

The Poles Trail is short but STEEP... most people were coming down. Be sure to have a good tread on your footwear if you decided to hike down. At the top of Poles you make a left and head back down to the Visitor Center parking. The view of the ocean is really nice on the way down, which makes the trek up Poles worth it.

1 month ago

Nice hike on a well maintained trail. As expected, no shade on the hike so bring plenty of water. If you go to the right on the trail you stay almost flat for about 1.5 miles til you reach the very steep incline to get to the ridge. If you go to the left the incline is gradual but then you don’t get the view of the water while hiking.

3 months ago

My 9 year old son and I did this hike. I'm glad we brought our hiking sticks. Some parts were a little steep him, but he did it! We enjoyed it & he would like to do it again with his cub scout pack. The view was great!

5 months ago

Nice hike. Strenuous uphill climbs in the beginnings, but nice views of the ocean once you reach a hilltop. Bring shade and plenty of H2O.

8 months ago

beautiful view.

8 months ago

This was my first time hiking in a while. I found it a little challenging once we reached the steep incline. Had some nice views and the weather was great! Would recommend.

8 months ago

Starts off a nice walk then gets really steep. Overall a nice short hike. $15 to park. Same Parking for the hike and beach access.

9 months ago

Fun trail for family hike. Poles Trail section a little steep for the little people but hey it's all good.

10 months ago

10 months ago

Nice wide smooth dirt trails, with some decent hills. $15 all day or $5/hr parking. Multiple trail options.

10 months ago

Really great hike! Beautiful view of the ocean at some points. There are a lot of options to make the trail longer or more difficult.

10 months ago

This trail was beautiful, with great views of the ocean, and safe paths to follow, with plenty of guide posts for the beginning hikers and all others.

I would definitely come here again!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

hello everybody the hike was great ! View at sunset time was amazing. Be ready to go up seriously the first mile. after that, getting to the view of the mountains on the other side was relaxing and free of car noise :) what a pleasure !
I recommand the hike followed by a beach time to cool off.
the only issue about that hike is the 15 dollars daily parking price but I definitively would do again

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Great trail for novice hikers. We were lucky to have an amazing sunny and 75 degree day on Thanksgiving when we hiked this trail. Great ocean views and plenty of trails to choose from as you traverse into the canyon. Day parking is $15 and good for all state parks. Head across the street to the Crystal Cove bluffs (parking covered with your day pass) and walk up and down the beach after your hike. I'll be back for the longer trails soon.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Very dry, not much too see until you reach an ocean view. Nevertheless a good hike, not crowded and right smack next to the ocean.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Great trail for a first timer hiker.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

A rather boring trail head with not much vegetation except from random vines with melons growing, but a great and challenging ascend that the kids conquered (ages 6-11).

The views of the ocean and ability to easily walk over to the small beach was well worth it. The kids loved running in the water at sunset and cannot wait to camp there next time.

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