Monday, August 6, 2012

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (Little Sycamore to Stagecoach South Loop)

The Little Sycamore to Stagecoach Trail Loop is a fun day hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.  Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike because it offers great views of Southern California and the South Coast Wilderness Area. While here you want to make sure you get a chance to check out the Nix Nature Center which is located at the trailhead for this hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: Directions to the Nix Nature Center for the Little Sycamore to Stagecoach South Loop: From the San Diego Freeway (405) in Irvine, exit onto the Laguna Freeway (133), which becomes Laguna Canyon Road. Drive south a couple miles to the signed entrance for the Nix Nature Center on the right (North/West) side of the road and park in the dirt lot. The preserve entrance is just north of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor (73 toll road). A map of the area can be found Here. The Nix Nature Center is indicated by the LS on the OC Parks map for the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

Description of Hike: This hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a great day hike in Orange County. The Little Sycamore to Stagecoach South Loop in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park travels along a dirt trail that is well maintained by the people at OC Parks. This is a 4.8 mile loop with roughly 400 feet of elevation gain. Sections of this hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park are a little steep. The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is comprised of roughly 6,800 acres and is part of the larger 20,000 acre South Coast Wilderness in Orange County. This hike is harder than it seems for a 4.8 mile loop because there are two sections where the trail goes up and back down again, so be prepared for a decent amount of elevation change. The only down side to hiking here is the limited amount of hours the parking lot is open. The lot is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and parking costs $3. For the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park brochure, click Here. For a hiking trail map for the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed this hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. We have hiked in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on several occasions and every time we have visited this park the trails are in great shape. The Little Sycamore to Stage Coach South Loop is a fun hike that shows you the wide variety of terrain found within the South Coast Wilderness. It allows you to see the size of the South Coast Wilderness as it is hard to see from driving around in Orange County.

We had a nice chat with some of the volunteers at the Nix Nature Center who were very helpful and informative. Additionally, one of the OC Park Rangers took the time to show us a rattlesnake he just saw cross the road near the trailhead at the Nix Nature Center. The OC Park Ranger also said that he had seen a bobcat in this area not too long ago. This hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has something for every hiker and is a fun one for the whole family to do together.

This is a great hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park because of the change in terrain, the natural setting, and the possibly of observing wildlife which use the lakes near the trailhead as a water source. Always remember to bring your camera as you have a great chance of seeing local Orange County wildlife on this hike, we saw three snakes while on this hike. To see more pictures of the snakes we saw click Here. This hike also seemed to have a lot of cactus near the trail, so be careful! On weekends and weekdays you are likely to see other hikers and family's out hiking here as it is a popular Orange County Hiking Spot.

When you do this hike, make sure to visit the Nix Nature Center. As Laguna Coast Wilderness Park's headquarters, the Nix Nature Center is the gateway for hikers to explore a vast network of linked trails throughout the 20,000 acre South Coast Regional Wilderness. The nature center's picture windows frame four main views into the surrounding parklands, challenging visitors of all ages to consider the wilderness from various perspectives. An easy loop trail just outside the center encourages visitors to appreciate the park's natural beauty. Restrooms with changing tables, drinking fountains, picnic tables, free maps and nature-oriented merchandise are available on site. Bottom line is this is a great hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and it is only minutes away from many South Orange County Cities. 

Rating: Elevation Gain: 400 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 4.8 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 2 - 2.5 hours.


Little Sycamore to Stagecoach South Loop (This Post)

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