Mountain Bike Car Wreck Trail through Aliso Canyon

Orange County Car Wreck Trail

  • Activities:

    Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Point-to-Point

  • RT Distance:

    7 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1000 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Laguna Beach and the surrounding coastal mountains and canyons features some of the finest mountain biking trails in the world, including the (in)famous Volvo "Car Wreck" trail, with 1,000 of elevation gain (or loss) and an overall rating of 8. The trail is equally suited for trail running and hiking.

There are numerous ways to incorporate the Car Wreck trail into a larger loop through the Laguna Coast Wilderness and Aliso Canyon Park, but a common route is to begin at Alta Laguna Park at "Top of the World" in Laguna Beach.

Take the West Ridge Trail .5 miles, bearing right onto the marked Car Wreck Trail. Here's the route increases significantly in technical difficulty. Eventually you'll pass the famous Volvo car wreck.

Go right on the Dripping Cave trail for .6 miles taking another right on Wood Canyon trail for .7 miles, which will eventually intersect with Aliso Creek Trail, which parallels the main (but closed) Aliso Canyon Road. Continue for 1.5 miles until you reach the parking lot at Alicia Road.

Looking for more options near the Laguna Coast Wilderness?
Mountain Bike Bommer Ridge & Emerald Canyon
Trail Run the Boat Road and Laguna Ridge
Hike the Water Tank Trail

Pack List

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Reviews

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I did this as a hike on a Saturday afternoon with blazing sunshine and 90* weather. I'm a Minnesota girl, so I am not accustomed to the nonstop sun (I'm not complaining about it, I just hadn't taken it into consideration). After taking in the scenic views of the ocean to the west and canyons to the east, I decided to go for it and hike down to the Car Wreck. I had asked someone along the start of the trail if I was on the right track to link up with the Car Wreck. He said "are you sure?" And I should have taken that as a sign haha! The trail definitely increases in technical difficulty as soon as you pass the marker. It's quite steep and I was regretting my decision every step after the first .25 miles in. Shortly before I reached the car, I was mentally preparing for the trip back up (and hating myself) when I ran into another hiker who was resting in the shade. She told me there was an easier way back to the top if I just continued on to Mathis Canyon. Mathis is an intermediate trail. It was still a brutal uphill trek, but I'm sure it was much easier than taking the car wreck trail back up! I thought I was going to pass out and was playing out rescue scenarios in my head during the last leg of my ascent to the Mathis Canyon/Car Wreck trailhead. After a 20 minute rest at the head, I completed the journey back to Top of the World and was then able to get back down to Laguna for a walk along the beach with cool water to soothe my aching dogs, and the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen! (From the Bird Rock area). I would like to thank those who checked on me while I was trying not to die at the top of Mathis Canyon Trail! Bottom line is: if an overweight, slightly out of shape, (intermediate)beginner can hike this and survive - so can you! Prepare yourself if you're going out and back; you start at the top and you must get back to the top!

12 months ago
12 months ago

Josiah RoeAdmin

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. - John Muir

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