Hike Willow Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Willow Staging Area

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!

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
  • Snacks
  • Small backpack for your snacks and water
  • Hiking shoes/boots or athletic shoes with good support
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat and sunglasses
  • And a good adventuring mindset
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RT Distance 6.7 Miles
Elevation Gain 1208 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Nice Short Hike

Instructions were very precise. Nice views and perfect for a half a day hike. It takes about 2.5 - 3 hrs. It does get hot at times, where there's no breeze (started around noon during the summer ...). Watch out for the mountain bikers. Thanks!

Serene Hike

This hike was amazing. Make sure you get there as close to 8 am as possible for parking. They don't open the gates till 8 so be prepared for that. We ended up taking Willow trail up to where it runs into bomber ridge to see the view of the ocean . There is little shade in the ascent and it's a pretty steep grade most of the way but the view is absolutely worth it. Once we rested a bit we went back down willow about 100 ft to Laurel spur and took that down to where it intersected Laurel canyon and followed that back to the staging area. It was a great morning hike hard enough to feel the effort but not too hard to complete.

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.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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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