Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park (Aliso Peak Trail)

Last weekend, Ashley and I had a chance to do a fun short urban hike in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park to Aliso Peak. This was a fun hike that offered awesome views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as great views of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. This is a shorter hike that is perfect for beginners, but is fun as well for season hikers. If you are looking for a true wilderness feel you might want to do another hike because of the close proximity of homes to the trail at a couple points.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Aliso Peak Trail, coming from the 5 freeway, exit at Alicia Parkway and go toward the beach. That is a right if you were going south on the 5 and is a left if you were going north. Take Alicia Parkway for several miles. You are going to make a right onto Pacific Island Drive and go up the hill. Close to the top of the hill you will make a right onto Talavera Dr. Talavera makes a short turn to the left. The trailhead is up ahead on your right at SeaView Park, just before the gated community. These directions are to take the Aliso Peak Trail to Aliso Peak. (Labeled on Google Map as the blue trail) Additionally, there is no cost to park at this location.

Alternate option: You can also take the Valido Trail from Pacific Coast Highway to Aliso Peak. From the 5 freeway, exit at Crown Valley Parkway and go west on Crown Valley towards the beach (Away from the Mission Viejo Mall). In several miles Crown Valley runs into Pacific Coast Highway at the beach. Turn right on Pacific Coast Highway and head north. You want to next make a right on West Street. Turn left on Valido Drive. The trailhead, which is almost like a dirt driveway, is at the top of the first slope.  (Labeled on Google Map below by the yellow trail) Additionally, there is no cost to park at this location.

Description of Hike: This is an out and back hike on an uneven dirt trail to Aliso Peak. Aliso Peak sits at an elevation of 638 feet and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park. Taking the Aliso Peak Trail to Aliso Peak is a fun hike. It is mostly downhill the whole way to the peak. The last section of the hike is a steep wood-tie staircase to get you up to the pinnacle of the Aliso Peak Hiking Trail. At the top are some of the best views of Laguna Beach, possibly the best in all of Orange County, as well as a bench to sit down and relax while taking in the views. The trail is a mile and half roundtrip with approximately 300 feet of elevation gain.

If you took the alternate route from Pacific Coast Highway using the Valido Trail, it is a little shorter at just under a mile and a half roundtrip, with about 400 feet of elevation gain. If you are looking to print out a map of the hiking trails in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park click Here. For the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park Brochure, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike. We went towards the evening and got to watch the sunset from Aliso Peak which was spectacular. We both would classify this as an urban hike, because of the proximity of the homes at a couple of sections along the trail. However, there is a fair amount of wilderness along this trail. Aliso Peak is on the south end of the 4,300 acre Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park which is part of the larger 20,000 acre South Coast Wilderness.

We did see a coyote when we were almost back to our car. However at this point it was getting dark and our pictures did not turn out. There are also signs posted warning about the possibility of mountain lions in the Aliso and 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 at least a decade (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.

We found the Aliso Peak Trail is in good shape when we did this hike. There are a couple of steep portions on the Aliso Peak Trail, so be prepared for a workout when you hike on the Aliso Peak Trail. We also saw a couple other people out on the trail when we went hiking. This hike in Orange County is a popular one, so expect to see others while out on the Aliso Peak Trail. Also dogs are allowed on the trail so long as they are on a leash.

At the beginning of the trailhead by SeaView Park, there are a couple of nice picnic areas that overlook the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park. It looked like a great spot to have lunch. When you get to Aliso Peak, there is a bench that is installed there for you to sit down and take in the views or to enjoy a lunch that you packed for your hike.

Rating: Aliso Peak Trail: Elevation Gain: 300 ft. (Easy), Distance: 1.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy). Valido Trail: Elevation Gain: 400 ft. (Easy), Distance: 1.25 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 hour.


Trail to Dripping Cave (aka: Robbers Cave)

Alta Laguna Park Trailhead

Aliso Peak trail (This Post)

Pectin Reef Loop

View Untitled in a larger map


  1. We just did this hike today. The views were just spectacular ! And the directions were very easy to follow.

    We will definitely be back checking you your blog for more hiking ideas.

    Thanks a lot for the great tip !


  2. I am adding this one to our to do list. It looks perfect for my three year olds to conquer.

  3. Sharlene,

    This is a perfect trail to wear down young kids on. It is short, but has some good elevation gain.


    Thank you for the kind words and comment.

  4. I successfully finished this trail last year with my friends. The peak was so extraordinary and the view was so perfect.

  5. We just took this trail and it was amazing. Aliso Peak was indeed a very good lunch spot, we waited for it cause we saw the recommendation here. Thanks! :)

  6. Thank you so much for documenting your hikes and creating your blog. My kids and I visit family often in this area but my family members aren't really hikers and don't know where to go. I was looking for a short hike with rewarding views for my kids and came across your blog where I found a short 1.5 mile hike which will be perfect for us today! Thanks so much,
    Jennifer, Baltimore, MD


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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.