Summary: Lofty coastal and canyon views highlight this sagey trek through a canyon adorned with acres of Black Mustard. The hike is best traveled in the clockwise direction, as there is more shade climbing uphill (carry plenty of water). About 1.5 miles past the trailhead, El Moro Cyn Rd. intersects with the East Cut Across-continue NE on El Moro Cyn. After two miles, welcome shade is provided by abundant Oak and Sycamore in the riparian woodland area. At the fork near the third mile, continue NE (right), climb uphill, and then, at 3.6 miles, for a scenic route along better trail, turn left at the fork (Elevator Rd.), continue uphill, and then turn right at road's end to face a gate and a sign marking the East Loop ("Missing Link" Tr.)-go right (east)-beware of speeding bikes! After an additional .7 mile, turn right at Moro Ridge Rd., and continue downhill, turning right at the East Cut-Across to complete the loop. Turn left at El Moro Cyn Rd. to return to the trailhead.
Trailhead: Three miles south of Corona Del Mar, on Pacific Coast Highway, look for a traffic light signed "School-State Park"-turn north (inland), and proceed past El Moro School to a stop sign-turn right, and proceed uphill, veering right, into the El Moro Canyon/Crystal Cove parking lot near the Park Headquarters building. Check if a parking fee is required (varies according to year and season), and proceed to the southeast end of parking lot-the El Moro Canyon trailhead begins behind the gate at the entrance kiosk. (Lat:33.56583 Lon:-117.82388)
Trail Guides for El Moro Canyon/El Moro Ridge Grand Loop (East):
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers, Bikes, Horses,
Ranger Contact: California State Parks-(949) 494-3539
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Patricia Barnes, who has posted 23 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by S.B on 7/9/2011
I've done this hike a couple times even during the trail erosion .. This hike is my personal favorite hike .. There are many bikers and runners on this trail .. The best place to park would be on the "Luguna Cove" side where parking is only $3 via the machine.. If you park on the "Crystal" Cove Side it's $15! .. Anyway .. There is no shade what so ever so prepared to get dark .. it's definitely an easy hike .. however .. be prepared with water, and things to eat .. There are many cut offs to make your hike shorter .. or you can just stay right .. and loop around to make your hike 15 miles! Oh and BEWARE of the snakes .. Usually where you see little rabbits running around .. Enjoy!..
Reviewed by C and S on 4/23/2011
We took the counter-clockwise Ridge-Missing Link-Canyon Route, 9 miles. Trail is well maintained the entire way, w markers at most junctions. On Moro Ridge, most of the elev gain is in 1st 1/3 of the path. Once on the ridge it's a long flat walk, so much so we chose to jog a part of it. The junction at Missing Link wasn't marked - it seemed like it was the right turn-off, and we were right. It felt way longer than 0.4 mile to the Canyon junction. Chose the Elevator path down. Should be named Elevator Shaft! Tried picking our way down step by step but ended up sliding down on our butts. Met a 3-ft rattlesnake sunning itself on the path. Tried to wait it out ended up shooing it off w a long stick. Good hike, good stories to tell.
Reviewed by Rudi on 3/6/2011
Very nice area - first time there. Didn't see the "School State Park" sign but the El Moro school is easy to spot from PCH. The trail head is at the southermost parking area for Crystal Cove State Park. Parking costs $15.00! Nice and green now, some wildflowers and cactus are blooming. Get there before it turns into California summertime brown.
Reviewed by W.A.S. on 6/19/2010
Hiked This trail today, going clockwise as suggested, and then instead of taking the East Cut-Across (I believe its called 'I think I can'), we continued south to B.F.I., making about a 10 mile loop. Overall, i would say this was a fun, moderate hike. This is great if you are training for a bigger trip too, as it has some good hills (the elevator was solid) and is centrally located in orange county. It took us 3 hours to complete the loop, with a 30 minute break, and 2 10 minute breaks. Fun hike, well marked trails, and certainly worth doing.
Reviewed by JanN on 5/29/2010
Hiked here on Sat May 22. Parked on the north side of the park, at the end of Ridge Park Rd. I hiked the loop going on fence line, missing link to the east, then moro ridge all the way down to the ranger station. From here up via no dogs, poles and mach one. Then on the single track path rattle snake / redtail ridge (very nice). At the end of this path left, back to Ridge Park Rd. This whole loop took 3 hrs and 20 min. With 2 (very) short stops. Lot's of bikers, hikers and runners out there. Especially being there on a Sat. Paths are wide and easy. No really very steep climbs.
Reviewed by Ray on 5/18/2010
Hiked the loop and made a few wrong turns, which is OK though!! Got back on track pretty quickly and ended up with a 12.5 mile hiking day!!! There are maps posted at most intersections. Just so you know, the rivet is the "You Are Here" indicator on the map. I didn't get it at first. Great hike and great views of the Ocean and hills.
Reviewed by Jason on 4/23/2010
I did this hike two weekends ago starting in the late afternoon. It was a bit overcast which made for a nice cool hike. It was cold and windy at the top where the trail parallels the toll road. The park was very green from the recent rains. Parking was $15 that day, so i guess the price has gone up from the previous $10. There are plenty of signs to keep you on track. It is a long hike, so bring water and enjoy the views.
Reviewed by Aces571 on 3/7/2010
I've done this hike in the past and really enjoyed it, though we went last Friday and the whole park was CLOSED due to trail erosion. I highly recommend calling before you head down that way.
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