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 2 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Rockys007 on 8/3/2009
We did this trail on 7/18. It was very hot and there is no shade anywhere along the route. There were supposed to be an easy, medium and challenging route. We experienced many trails and ALL of them require some steep climbs and some steep descents. The "easy" route still has some steep climbs 50 deg up hill. The trails are marked, but some of them are confusing and misleading. We took the 5.5 mile easy route and after some steep climbs and many rests under a brutal sun, we decided to take the trail for the 9.5 mile hike, but ended somewhere else by mistake due to the poor trail directions. We ended up at the exact other end of the trails and had to hike back to the start the long way round. 12 miles w/nothing to see, just exercise.
Reviewed by Victor on 11/18/2008
My family and I did this hike this past Saturday. When we when into the visitor center to pay for parking ($10), I found out that there are three separate trails: easy, moderate or difficult. Since I had my kids with me (ages 6 and 8), I chose to go with the moderate. This is 5.5 miles, starting from the south side of the parking lot, then to BFI, then up Moro Ridge, left at I Think I Can, then back via El Moro Canyon. Elevation gain is 842 feet. There is no shade for the first half of the trail, so be sure to wear a hat and bring lots of water. First half of trail has great ocean view. There were some mtn bikers, but they were all very courteous. Good hike, would try the difficult trail next time (w/o kids).
Reviewed by TYLC on 5/11/2008
Gorgeous views with wildflowers, California Quail and Towhees. $10 parking! A good workout (3 hours, 15 minutes). My husband and I followed the directions above. But at Elevator, instead of going left, we went right and up the very steep climb (get your poles and butt ready), got great views of ocean and cooling sea breezes. At top, went right (eastwards) down a single narrow trail with plants taller than 6', watch out for bikers! Descended down El Moro Ridge, but instead of going right on the East Cut-Across, continued down to a sidetrail marked "BFI" (amazing views, hardly any bikers) for return past deserted RV park/campground and trailhead. Most of the loop is sunny, so bring plenty of water, a snack, sunscreen, and a hat.
Reviewed by SE & JB on 4/21/2008
Love this hike! Took the clockwise route - No Dogs/No Name Trail to the Cut Across, then El Moro Canyon Trail to Elevator. Continued NW to Red Ridge Trai, taking the spur on the right to Ticketron, then back down No Name/No Dogs. The lower portion of the trail had lots of activity, but few hikers/bikers deep in the canyon & on the ridge. Park opens at 6 am. Parking is $10. Beautiful ocean views at points & you feel far from civilization once you get a couple miles in.
Reviewed by CZ abd CC on 1/9/2008
My girlfriend took me on this "few mile" hike/run. It is amazing and relatively easy (if you are not dating someone as in shape as she is)... Just make sure you take lots of water and that you inform the others that it is almost 10 miles not a few... The views are amazing and there are lots of scenic points that make the time fly by...
Reviewed by Runner_M on 7/7/2007
I ran-walked this trail on 7/7/7. I did not run the trail clockwise as was recommended. I wore my GPS watch to track my pace and time, bad habits from being a road runner. The views are great, and I was amazed that this exists in the heart of orange county. I finished the run (9.90 miles) in about 2:27 running/walking time, add about 10 minutes of stoppage time. I enjoyed the trail immensely and will do it again. My recommendation, carry a map, it is easy to get lost, I got lost twice . Also, there are no water fountains, so carry at least 2 bottles (1 with electrolyte replacement and the other with water). Happy trails!!!
Reviewed by JZR on 2/22/2006
Did a modified version of the hike described above. Instead of taking the canyon, I hit a sidetrail called BFI right after the trailer park ended. That took me to a fire road which went to the top of the ridge where the views are GRAND! Saw downtown Long Beach and way past. Continued all the way to the back of the park and around on some trails I cant even remember. That's what is so nice about this area -- its well marked and there are so many trails with interesting names like Elevator, Ticketron, Poles and my favorite, I Think I Can. Watch out for bikers.
Reviewed by Jerry on 9/3/2005
I live nearby (Irvine), so this is a popular stroll. The oak-sycamore riparian area is always refreshing; the trees are truly impressive (and large) after hiking through miles of dry coastal chaparral. The eroded rock formations at the higher elevations are other-worldly. This is a hike to focus on what is there more that on what surrounds (Newport Coast housing development and the 73-tollway). Views of the Pacific are grand. You can also tag on a dead-flat 6-to-7 mile beach walk at the adjacent Crystal Cove State Beach to really make it a day!
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