Hike-in Primitive Camping at Crystal Cove SP

Orange County El Moro Canyon Trailhead

Added by Joshua Hernandez

  • Relatively close if you live in the Orange County
  • This area and makes you feel secluded once you reach your site
  • Lower Moro is the highest of the three primitive campgrounds, it offers an amazing sunset view to eat a nice hot meal to :)
  • Once you hike back down to your car, you can then easily walk about a 100 yards under a bridge and catch some nice California waves
  • Duration: Overnight

Located off of Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach is Crystal Cove State Park. There are three primitive sites located in Crystal Cove: Deer Canyon, Upper Moro, and Lower Moro.

The site I stayed at was Lower Moro campground. All three of these sites require the backpacker to hike everything in at least three miles each way. The closest site is Lower Moro which took me about an hour and a half to two hours to reach. It is recommended that you reserve a spot before you camp here which starts at 25 dollars a night plus a car fee to enter the park.

After you speak to the ranger at the booth, keep going straight (right is for group camping). You will then hit a stop sign at the bottom of the hill and then make a left where you will see the trailhead, which will be directly in front of you.

Once you start hiking you can either go straight or turn right once you get about 50 yards in. Going right is very strenuous on the body so make sure you have plenty of water and snacks to give you the energy needed for the ascend. If you remain on this trail for about three miles then you will eventually run into Lower Moro site directly in front of you. There are about 25 sites and it is a first-come, first-serve basis but make sure you head to reserveamerica.com to at least guarantee yourself a site within the campground. This place does not allow any type of open fires so you will need a backpacking stove to cook your meals. Also, water is not available at any of the three primitive locations but they do have bathrooms and trashcans for your convenience.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • At least 3 liters of water
  • Snacks/Meals
  • Food container
  • Backpacking stove
  • Hiking shoes
  • Toilet paper
  • Warm top for bed/morning
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round



Easy Parking

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

11 months ago

Nice Overnight, But That's About It

Good distance in to the spots. Each were secluded enough. You are in direct sunlight all day. I wouldn't recommend this during the summer.

11 months ago

Added by Joshua Hernandez

A man in his twenties who loves to explore the outdoors. You can find me camping, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking Southern California.

More Adventures Nearby

Climb at Intersection Rock in Joshua Tree

Orange County / Intersection Rock Parking Lot

Intersection Rock is located in the Hidden Valley Campground with lots of parking! Overhang bypass route5.

Rayne Grein
3 Saves

Hike Willow Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Orange County / Willow Staging Area

This hike has been a must do since I was young.

Doug Hall
7 Saves

Hike to Holy Jim Falls

Orange County / Holy Jim Trail

To start, directions on how to get to the trail there are two different ways, the most common , which I will explain, being through Rancho Santa Margarita you will head east on Santa Margarita Parkwa.

Doug Hall
40 Saves