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!
- 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!
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
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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.
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