Sunday, 20 May 2018


Fresh air, beach breezes and ample open space makes Orange County a dream destination for outdoor adventurers. Between the 42 miles of coast and dozens of hiking trails, there’s never a shortage of things to do on a sunny SoCal day. Here, discover 10 destinations—five hikes and five beaches—that offer active explorers a one-of-a-kind O.C. experience.

1) Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach
Five miles of beginner hiking and walking trails allow visitors to explore one of the largest remaining saltwater marshes in California. The wetlands are home to five plant communities, more than 300 species of bird, 80 species of fish and several rare species such as the California brown pelican and American peregrine falcon. Visit on your own with free parking or take a complimentary public tour on the second Saturday of each month.

2) Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
A huge expanse of 4,500 acres of wilderness features 30 miles of official hiking trails. The wildlife sanctuary spans several cities in south Orange County with access to historic natural landmarks like Dripping Cave, an 1850s hideout for California bandits, and Top of the World, a scenic lookout point that provides jaw-dropping views of Laguna Beach.

3) Doheny Beach Trail, Dana Point
This easy, 3.1-mile walk meanders along the Dana Point coast and connects to the San Clemente Beach Trail to the south. Great for families, the beach path remains level throughout and allows views of surfers, sailboats and aquatic wildlife along the shore. Four-legged friends are also welcome on a leash.

4) Holy Jim Falls
This trailhead is accessible only via a dirt road where offroad or four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended—but it’s well worth the effort. The drive may be the most difficult part of this family friendly trail, which is ranked among the top in Orange County for its lush landscaping. During a wet season, visitors are treated to a small waterfall at the end of the trail.

5) Saddleback Mountain Hike
A strenuous, challenging hike, this 15-mile trail (an offshoot of the Holy Jim trailhead) brings visitors to the highest point in the Santa Ana Mountains: Santiago Peak at 5,689 feet. Elevation gains lead to glimpses of the Pacific Ocean as well as vistas of Catalina Island, the Inland Empire and San Bernardino Mountains.

6) The Wedge, Newport Beach
Known for towering waves up to 30 feet, this slice of Newport Beach coast draws veteran bodysurfers and bodyboarders. Leave the wave-riding to the pros—at this not-to-be-missed local beach spot, watching some of the wildest waters in Orange County provide plenty of

7) Huntington State Beach
Home to the Surfer’s Hall of Fame and the International Surfing Museum, Surf City USA is the quintessential beach town. The Van’s U.S. Open of Surfing takes place annually at Huntington State Beach, which is anchored by one of the longest piers on the West Coast. The beach also features more than 200 fire rings, perfect for bonfires and cookouts right on the sand.

8) Crystal Cove State Park
In addition to 2,400 acres of El Moro backcountry and an underwater park, Crystal Cove features 3.2 miles of beach and a charming historic district on the sand. Walk the shore to view cottages from the 1900s as well as tidepools with an array of marine wildlife like the giant spined sea star or purple sea urchins.

9) Lower Trestles, San Clemente
While Huntington Beach may bear the Surf City moniker, Lower Trestles—part of San Onofre State Beach‚ is one of the top-ranked surf spots in the world. The beach enclave, at one of the southernmost points of Orange County, is accessible only by a long walk along a nature trail.

10) Wood’s Cove, Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach boasts 30 beaches spanning 7 miles of coastline, so narrowing down the options is a harrowing task. At the corner of Diamond Street and Coast Highway, Wood’s Cove is a great spot for families seeking a diverse beach experience at low tide. Enjoy a picnic on the sand while little ones snorkel in the shallow waters and explore three tide pools areas, tunnels and caves.

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