Hike Willow Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Orange County Willow Staging Area

Added by Doug Hall

Visiting Laguna Beach? See the ocean and some wildlife all in one hike!

This hike has been a must do since I was young. Do you love scenic views of the ocean and wildlife? You'll see plenty of both, from hawks searching for food to squirrels and deer running through the brush. This is my favorite route in this area but there are plenty of other trails to shorten or add length to your adventure. Be sure to leave feedback if you've hiked the surrounding trails so we can all know what the other trails are like!

To get here you must take Laguna Canyon, also called the 133, to get here. If you are heading west towards the beach the parking lot will be on your right, or vise versa if you are heading from PCH or the beach the parking lot will be on your left. The parking lot is named Willow Staging Area and I even have the parking lot tagged to my adventure for your ease!

Once you have found the staging area, take Willow Canyon Trail up the side of the canyon. This is an almost immediate climb up the canyon wall so be prepared for some elevation gain at the start of the trail. Most of this entire hike is in the sun so be prepared with lots of water if you are hiking in the hotter seasons of the year.

Once you reach the top of the canyon wall hiking up Willow Canyon Trail, take Bommer Ridge left. Hint, don't turn onto any other trails until Willow Canyon Trail dead ends into Bommer Ridge. Stay on Bommer Ridge until you reach Old Emerald Downhill, this trail is about 12% downhill grade, be careful as it can be slippery when the dirt is dry and loose.

Once you have gone down Old Emerald Downhill hang a right onto Emerald Canyon, this trail will be at the base of the canyon so you get some tree coverage! This is in one of my photo's, it's a great spot to stop and take a break before starting the climb back out of the canyon. Emerald Canyon will climb back up to the top of the ridge where Bommer Ridge trail is at.

Once you hit Bommer ridge take a right, be sure to take another quick left on Willow Canyon Trail as that will be your route back down to the staging area to your car to finish the adventure.

Enjoy this hike! The parking lot has a fee of $3 that you have to pay so make sure you pay because they will ticket your vehicle! The machine accepts Visa/Master Card, it also accepts dollar bills and quarters. Also make sure you aren't parked there past sunset because the gates close daily, unfortunately this isn't a good hike for sunset because of this but it is gorgeous at any time of the day!

Pack List

  • Water, and plenty of it!!
  • Snacks, I bring trail mix usually because it is a good variety of healthy food to keep your energy up!
  • Small backpack for your snacks and water.
  • Hiking shoes/boots or athletic shoes with good support, the trail is somewhat long so be sure to bring shoes with good support.
  • Sunscreen, you are exposed for a majority of the hike so be sure to protect your skin as you are near the ocean and it's a very sunny hike!
  • A hat and sunglasses!
  • And a good adventuring mindset!
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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

6.7 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1208 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Feels Far Away

This hike is easy access to much needed open space. Views of the ocean are rewarding. If you start on the trail with the big rock at the beginning, you'll see a ton of little caves when walking on the valley floor.

about 1 month ago

Added by Doug Hall

Overlanding from point A to anywhere. Follow me and my adventures with my beautiful girlfriend. We are both from Southern California on a quest to spread the good word of overlanding and all outdoor adventure.

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