Crystal Cove State Park Hiking Guide: The Difficult Loop Trail
This guide will take you through an ocean view hike in Crystal Cove State Park, which is located in Orange County, California.
Know before you go:
Dogs are not allowed to hike in Crystal Cove.
In my opinion, the park’s trail rating is not appropriate for experienced hikers. The park considers this a difficult loop, but after completing this myself I would consider this an easy hike.
When to go: All year round!
Spring has very comfortable temps and is one of the best times of year to hike.
Summers are hot! Be sure to bring plenty of water.
Autumn is Santa Ana winds/fire season, so take care if there is fire weather in the area.
Winter rains could close trails, so check the park’s website for closures if it has recently rained.
Parking Fee: $5 per hour with a $15 max
Type of Hike: Loop
Difficulty Level: Easy/Medium (in my opinion, however, the park rates this as difficult)
Time: about 2 hours
Length: Less than 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 827 est. feet
Trails to hike:
- Moro Canyon- 1 mile
- East Cut Across- 1.1 miles
- Moro Ridge- 1.6 miles
- B.F.I.- .1 miles
View the Park Map here.
Visit the Park’s Website for more information.
Crystal Cove is a State Park located in between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, California. It is a popular area for hiking since it has awesome ocean views overlooking Laguna and Crystal Cove State Beach. On a clear day, you will also see Catalina Island, the Newport Beach Pier, and possibly the Huntington Beach Pier.
The park map has 4 different suggested trail routes (although there are more than just these options). I would like to show you one option that is fairly quick and easy (for a regular hiker), but enough to satisfy your hiking urge. Plus it has wonderful ocean views for half of the route!
This guide will take you through the “Difficult Loop Trail” on the park map.
Ready to do some Crystal Cove State Park hiking?
Start on Moro Canyon
I found that the park does not clearly mark where the beginning of this trail is from the parking lot. I parked in the day use area and started walking away from the ocean and eventually found the entrance to this trail, which starts with a bridge.
You will continue on this trail for about 1 mile, and once you reach East Cut Across turn right.
East Cut Across
This might be the hardest part of the route, but still nothing too difficult for a hiker. If this is your first time hiking or you are not in shape you might need to take a break along this trail since you will start climbing.
You will eventually reach a division on the trail for Moro Ridge. You can go left or right since both trails will meet again. Feel free to take a right since you will need to take a right again anyways once you reach Moro Ridge.
You will continue climbing a little bit, but soon you will reach the peak and get a gorgeous panoramic view of the ocean! It was so clear on this day that I was actually able to see all the way to the Huntington Beach Pier!
From this point on you will have ocean views, so enjoy! This is a really nice sunset spot if you are able to make it at that time.
Once you start getting closer to the Pacific Coast Highway you will find the trail named B.F.I. Take a right here.
This is a very short trail that will lead you back to the day use parking lot. There is one technical downhill area which is a little steep. You will cross a very small bridge before reaching the large bridge that you crossed in the beginning.
I hope you enjoy this hike in Crystal Cove! Hikes such as this one are one of the many reasons why I love living in Orange County so much!
As always, let me know your comments or questions below! Thanks for reading!