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El Moro Canyon Short Loop Trail

moderate(362)
Crystal Cove State Park

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.

Distance: 2.9 miles Elevation Gain: 479 feet 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

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.

hiking
muddy
6 days ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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!!!!

hiking
bugs
fee
1 month ago

Great views and very helpful ranger station!

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!

hiking
bugs
fee
no shade
2 months ago

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.

hiking
fee
no shade
2 months ago

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

hiking
fee
2 months ago

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.

Easy trail with slight incline at the beginning and very end to the upper parking lot. Overall great hike in the am with a great view at the beginning of the hike.

Great little loop and up hill section if you do Poles going up hill. Great views.

hiking
fee
washed out
3 months ago

Expect at least 3-4 killer switchbacks - the view is beautiful and downhill after.

hiking
4 months ago

Love this trail

5 months ago

Nice trail near the beach. The parking is kind of expensive at $15 or you can park down the street at the Trader Joe's. There are some very steep spots but overall a nice hike. It was also pretty windy the day we went. Your shoes will definitely get dusty on this trail. Keep a look out for mountain bikers.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail. Decent workout going uphill, steep downhill, and really nice flat area during the last mile. Beautiful views and a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning with the kids.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike, did it with my baby boy on my back and it was just challenging enough to be enjoyable

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

Really well worn trail. Very well marked. Never once did we get close to getting lost. Hot. Absolutely no shade. There are steep trails, and downhills. Good variety. Great views. Took our 5 and 7 year olds, and they did great. I like that there are other trail variations in this area. We will be back.

Hiked with our 3mo old on a baby carrier. We started on the left and found that the pole’s rd was pretty steep to go down with our sneakers. Wished we would had brought our hiking shoes. Parking was pretty easy when we arrived around 6 pm for a sunset hike. $5 for parking if you arrive after 5pm w/o a state park pass; you can pay cash (with exact change) or with a credit card. Not busy at all on the trail. Beautiful views of the mountains and ocean. Overall would definitely come back to do the more strenuous hike once baby is older.

hiking
7 months ago

Many birds, butterflies, and interesting plants but not much shade.

hiking
9 months ago

Not much else to add except I'd recommend walking the extra couple miles roundtrip along the beach and enjoying a couple beers on the Beachcomber patio in Crystal Cove. You can access the beach via the Crystal Cove State Park tunnel on the south end of the trail.

Relatively easy hike but still a good workout and Great scenery. Will definitely be a go-to hike for a quick workout.

hiking
11 months ago

I hiked this loop with my 9 y/o daughter and we loved the amazing scenery. The wildflowers are in full bloom which made everywhere you turn a sight to see. We went counterclockwise on the loop which meant we went up Poles. As others have stated, Poles is pretty steep and is definitely a good challenge (make sure you have good sturdy shoes), but once you get up to the top, the walk back down with panoramic views of the Pacific made it well worth it. Highly recommend especially in spring.

hiking
11 months ago

Hiked this with my family last weekend. It was gorgeous, the flowers were in full bloom and everything and the hills were bright green. We went counter-clockwise and hiked up poles which was steep, but manageable. The overlook of the pacific and surrounding state park was absolutely stunning. If you only have a couple hours and want to explore Crystal Cove State Park, I would highly recommend!

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