Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park anaheimer Sat, 11/28/2020 - 16:16

nullOne of the newest additions to the State Parks system, Crystal cove, spans 3900 acres of hills, canyons, trails, and beaches.

The park is a haven for people wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of civilization in Orange County, California.

Visitors can spend a day at the beach, go for day hikes, ride their mountain bikes, enjoy backpacking, primitive wilderness camping, and Tent and RV camping.

At the newest addition to the park, the Moro campground, nature lovers can enjoy the restroom and shower facilities for a more relaxed camping experience.

Crystal Cove State Park TrailsThe campground has tent and RV sites, connects to the beach via a tunnel, and offers direct access to the hiking trails.

Whether you are camping or just here for a day visit, you can try one of the 18-mile hiking trails through the canyons and Shaparal hills.

Start by getting a (map) of the park online or at the ranger station. There are too many trails to pick from and lots of chances to get lost.

Read more about the trails here

nullThe beaches can be accessed via several parking lots along Pacific Coast Highway.

Tip: Once you get a parking ticket, it is good for any State Park parking lot for the whole day.

​The beaches here are great for surfing, body surfing, rock climbing, and sea life exploration at the tide pools.

Read more about the beaches here

Crystal Cove Boardwalk above the beachIf you prefer a more active day at the beach but you don’t feel like going on a strenuous hike, you can take the pedestrian and bike trail overlooking the ocean. The trail has excellent views of the ocean and the beach below the bluffs.

As if the beaches and wilderness areas are not enough, the state park extends into the ocean with the Underwater Forest. A 1000-acre kelp forest offering divers amazing views of sea life.

Read more about the Underwater Forest here.

PCH Entrance

8471 N. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-3539

Coastal Peak Park Entrance

20403 E Coastal Peak
Newport Coast, CA 92657

Crystal Cove Beaches

Crystal Cove Beaches anaheimer Sun, 11/29/2020 - 07:33

nullCrystal Cove state park is both a beach and a wilderness area with many hiking trails, beaches, and historic beach cottages.

This 3-mile stretch of beach along the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the state park system's newest additions.

Heading inland, the park covers 3000 acres of hills, canyons, and trails. It also includes primitive campgrounds that only backpackers can reach. 

To read about Crystal Cove trails, click on this link

nullThe beach system includes seven distinct areas. Each has its own character. The beaches connect during low tide – forming one long stretch of beach. But during high tide, the water blocks the way along the rocks.

Most beaches at the state park require a steep climb down the stairs or ramps towards the beach, so be prepared. You can avoid those steep inclines if you are at the Moro Campground.

Tip: Try to pack light for this beach trip. Just remember that you have to climb the same steep stairs or ramp on the way back up.

nullThe beaches here are great for surfing, body surfing, rock climbing, and sea life exploration at the tide pools

Along the 3 mile stretch of beaches, there is an excellent pedestrian and bike trail. You can take this very easy hike instead of the El-Moro Canyon trail. The advantage: great views of the cliffs and the ocean. The disadvantage: You can hear the cars along PCH.

For additional exploration, try the other beaches at this state park, each with a distinct personality:

Moro Beach

Moro is the southernmost beach, located closer to Laguna Beach and across from the new Moro Campground. Park in the day-use lot and walk through a short tunnel to this easily Crystal Cove Boardwalk above the beachaccessible.

Moro beach is popular with bodyboarders, stand-up paddleboarders, surf fishermen, and kayakers.

Reef Point

Reff point is popular for swimming, surfing, and scuba diving, and tidepools. It also has Little Treasure Cove and Muddy Creek, emptying out onto the beach from Muddy Canyon.

Historic District at Los Trancos Beach

This beach is home to the historic district with vintage cottages. If you are lucky and Crystal Cove historic district cottagespersistent, you might be able to snag a reservation at

The parking lot is across Pacific Coast Highway with a tunnel under the road. Walking through the tunnel to get to the cottages is a lovely experience – with green vegetation and running water.

At the cottages and right on the sand, you can enjoy a meal at The Beachcomber Café.

Pelican Point

The beach slopes gradually, so it’s a narrow beach at high tide and a wide beach with rocks in the surf at low tide. There are tide pools at the north end near Pelican Point where scuba divers enter searching for even more marine life.

Treasure Cove Beach

nullTreasure Cove Beach is popular with surfers and scuba divers exploring the reefs in Crystal Cove Underwater Park.

In the wall facing Treasure Cove is a cave that is accessible at lower tides. There are also many tide pools in this area to enjoy at low tide.

Little Treasure Cove

This beach is the northernmost boundary of Crystal Cove State Park. Little Treasure Cove is best at low tide when the rocks and tide pools are exposed.

On the bluffs above, there is an observation tower marking the best spot for whale watching.

Crystal Cove Hiking

Crystal Cove Hiking anaheimer Sun, 11/29/2020 - 07:45

Crystal Cove hiking trails

Crystal Cove state park is both a beach and a wilderness area with many hiking trails.

This 3-mile stretch of beach along the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the state park system's newest additions. Along with its pristine beaches, it covers 3000 acres of hills, canyons, and trails.

Crystal Cove hiking trailsTo read about Crystal Cove Beaches, click on this link

It also includes primitive campgrounds that only backpackers can reach.

The newest addition is the Moro campground, which has some facilities. It sits in between the beach and the hiking trails.

​Take a break from Orange County's main attractions' excitement to commune with nature and forget the hustle and bustle of civilization.

Some of the trails are easily handled by young children 6 and up. Younger children may need help.  If the kids complain too much about the hike, remind them about visiting the beach after the hike. 

You can start exploring the state park with a hike in the wilderness area.

Crystal Cove hiking trails mapThe park has about 17 miles of trails to pick from. Get a map online (map) or from the ranger stations. The map shows color-coded trails with a difficulty level guide.

There are now 2 parking areas available for hikers. One of them is at the Moro campground day-use area. The other is outside the campground next to the main ranger station/visitors center. I usually park at the campground because it also provides easy access to the beach and the trails.

Tip: The entrance to the wilderness part of the park may be a little confusing. Just remember that it is behind the El-Moro Elementary School.

The park is huge, with too many trails to pick from - it is possible to get lost, so plan ahead. Don't forget the map.

If you are looking for an easy hike, start from the trailhead at the top of the day-use area (away from the beach) and go over the wood bridge then turn left. Follow the trail through Moro Canyon.

Tip: Another entrance to the park is located at Coastal Peak Park on the North end of the park. You can start your hikes at the top, but remember that you have to climb back up.

nullMoro Canyon is mostly level with a lot of shade. But get ready to exercise a little when you turn left at the first fork (called Poles trail). There is a steep incline at this portion of the trail.

Once you reach the top, turn left again onto "No Dogs" trail. This will take you down to the ranger station and the main parking lot. As you descent, you can enjoy lovely views of the ocean.

Keep going past the ranger station and turn left into "Moro Canyon" trail which will take you back to the wood bridge and the campground. This loop hike is about 2.5 miles.

If you prefer a bigger challenge, study the trail map and plan a longer loop.

For example, you can take the Moro ridge to Moro canyon loop for a 5-mile hike. Many of the trails have a great view of the Pacific Ocean, but Moro ridge has the best continuous view.

Some people call this the Red Loop. The reverse route (Moro Canyon to Moro Ridge) provides more spectacular views because you are facing the ocean while descending back to the Canyon. 

Tip: Most of the trails are out in the open with no shade, so avoid going during hot weather and take lots of water with you. Moro canyon has some shade and follows a seasonal creek. 

Crystal Cove Boardwalk above the beachExpect to find sage, prickly pear cactus, monkey flowers, goldenbush, lemonade berry, deer weed, and oak. You can also find lots of birds, some rabbits, and some eagles. 

Tip: Those trails are also popular for mountain biking, so watch out for speedy bikes going downhill.

​Once you are done with the hike, keep your parking ticket and head out to the beach. Your ticket is good at all the crystal cove parking lots. If you are already at the campground, just use the underpass to the beach.

PCH Entrance

8471 N. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-3539

Coastal Peak Park Entrance

20403 E Coastal Peak
Newport Coast, CA 92657