Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
The parking lot and trailheads are on Awma Road via Alicia Parkway. The parking fee is only $3, but there is no attendant. Make sure to get a ticket from the machine and display it on your dash. Parking closes at sunset.
After you park, head south to a large sign showing several trailheads and pick your trail. Also, remember to grab a trail map at the edge of the parking lot.
Tip: If you are planning to do a lot of hiking in OC Parks administered areas, you can get an annual pass from the parking dispenser.
On our first visit, we took the Aliso Creek trail because it is an easy trail with a slight decline when going towards the ocean. But do remember that this will turn into a slight include going back.
The trail is a mostly paved road but only accessible to official vehicles. As you are descending, the creek is on your left. You can hear the running water every once in a while with some small cascades along the way.
There is no shade to mention, so be aware and bring lots of water during warmer days. The trail branches along the way into several trails.
Tip: The trails are heavily used by bikers. Watch out for speeding bikes, especially on the dirt portion of the trails.
The first one you encounter – to the left - is Aliso Canyon East – which takes you back to the parking lot or to Lagina Niguel Regional Park.
A second branch – to the right – takes you into Wood Canyon Trail. This trail extends all the way into the Laguna Beach hills and connects to other great hikes like Oak Grove, Car Wreck, and Top of the World.
We did not take any detours during this first hike. We kept going next to the creek admiring the brush, wildflowers, reeds, and bird songs. We stopped after one hour of hiking then turned back.
As you walk on the main trail, watch out for the hills and rock formations on the right. You will see sloping rocks heading towards some caves. You can climb those rocks to get close to the caves.
An alternative to turning back was to keep going along the creek towards Also Beach. That would have taken another hour of hiking downhill. Hiking back would have taken more than 2-hours due to the incline, but you can always Uber back to your car.
If you decide to take Wood Canyon trail, you will enjoy a lot of shade but a more challenging hike (moderate). The out and back hike is about 7-miles paralleling Wood Creek with a forest setting.
At the end of the day, you can hike or drive down to Aliso Beach for a relaxing picnic on the beach or grab lunch at the Lost Pier Café – right on the sand. During our visit, we tried their cheeseburgers. They were cooked to order and tasty. The outdoor seats were a perfect end to our active day.28373 Alicia Pkwy Aliso Viejo, CA 92656