Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park (Alta Laguna Park Trailhead)

On Saturday June 27, 2009 Ashley and I went back out to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. This was our second time to the park and we chose to visit the north end of the park using the Alta Laguna Park Trailhead. Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is easily accessible from anywhere in Orange County and offers hikers great Orange County hiking opportunities.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Alta Laguna trailhead, a northern entrance to the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, exit the 5 freeway at El Toro Road and head towards the ocean. Make a left onto Laguna Canyon Road and head towards Laguna Beach. Make a left onto Third Street and then a left on Park Avenue. Follow Park Avenue to where it dead ends and make a left. The trailhead is at the end of the road. A map of the area around the trailhead can be found Here. There are other available options to enter the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park which are listed below. 

Description of Hike: The Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is roughly 4,200 acres and has over 30 miles of trails. The main trail through the park is flat and is a very easy Orange County Hike. There are also more challenging trails available in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park that have significant elevation gain. This hike is an out and back hike with a loop. Ashley and I took the West Ridge Trail to the Cholla Trail. These trails offer sweeping views of the South Coast Wilderness and Orange County. At that point we went down into the North Portion of Wood Canyon and followed the Wood Creek Trail to the Coyote Run Trail, and Made a left up Rock-it Trail, returning to the trailhead via the west ridge trail. Overall this hike was about 7-8 miles with about an 800 ft. elevation gain. We would both highly recommend this hike. The trails we took were in very good shape because they are maintained by OC Parks. Additionally, the views from the West Ridge Trail are spectacular. Trail maps of the Canyon are available at the Alta Laguna Park trailhead (directions given above) or you can print out your own trail map of the hiking trails at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park by clicking Here. Parking is free at the Alta Laguna Park Trailhead. For the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park Brochure, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed our hike in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. This park has much to offer everyone from the beginning hiker to the seasoned hiker. The views on the West Ridge Trail are amazing. You can see the ocean as well as all around Orange County. There are great views of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park as well as Crystal Cove State Park. There is always a great chance to see Orange County wildlife while hiking in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. While we were in the Canyon Portion of our hike Ashley and I saw a coyote and a snake. Unfortunately we were not quick enough with our camera to get a good picture of either. Wildlife is abundant in this Orange County Wilderness Park so be on the lookout and have your camera ready. 

This northern ridge of the Park has more viewpoints and vistas than the trailhead to dripping cave that we took the last time we were here. When you go hiking on this trail you will likely see many other people out in the park, especially on the weekends. Always be on the lookout for mountain bikers because this park is a favorite of theirs. The northern end of the Aliso & Wood Canyon Wilderness Park also has a fair amount of elevation gain so be ready for a good workout. Lastly, if you go on a warm summer day, make sure to bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen as the ridge line portion of this hike has limited shade. There are also signs posted at the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park warning about the possibility of mountain lions in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, however we seriously doubt there are any because the South Coast Wilderness is not big enough to support a mountain lion population for any extended period of time. Additionally, park rangers have told us in the past there have been no confirmed mountain lion sightings in the area for a long time (But there is always a very slight chance one could migrate from the Santa Ana Mountains into the South Coast Wilderness). Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness park does have bobcats though

Ashley and I look forward to coming back to this park soon as it is well worth a trip to explore some of Orange County's best hiking spots. The Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is a great place to hike in Southern California and we highly recommend this hike to others.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 800 ft. (Easy - Moderate), Distance: 7 - 8 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 4 - 5 hours.



  1. Friends and I did this hike yesterday and it was fabulous. We followed your directions exactly. Thank you for the great description, directions and information. The above comment from hardshell backpack about the 1.5 mile walk alongside the road confused us; not an issue for us. We parked at the park by the Top of The World area and had immediate access to the Westridge trailhead. Note our experience with the mountain bikers is they do not yield to hikers. We recommend staying very alert and jumped to the side off trail whenever one passes; many are going at high speeds downhill and a collision would be a disaster. We did not see any horseback riders.


Post a Comment

Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.