Hiking Routes to Top of the World Laguna Beach, California

One of the best hikes in Laguna Beach is to the beautiful Top of the World. It is exactly what it sounds like – you’ll get an amazing 360-degree view over the Laguna Beach coastline and Orange County’s Saddleback Mountain. On a clear day you can also see Catalina Island!

Depending on your limitations, you can take the easy route and just drive to Top of the World, or you can work for those views by hiking. This post is all about the different hiking routes to Top of the World!

Read my guide for a list of the best easy hikes in Orange County (with an amazing view)!

Ocean view from Top of the World Laguna Beach

Which route should I hike to Top of the World in Laguna Beach?

There are several hiking routes to Top of the World which range from easy to difficult. 

Option #1: The Easy Route

The easiest option is an out-and-back hike using West Ridge Trail to Top of the World. Out and back means you hike in and out using the same trail. 

You’ll be able to start your hike from Top of the World if you’re already in Laguna, or from a park in Aliso Viejo for those of you who are inland OC. Take this route if you are a beginner! 

Option #2: The Mid-Level Route

The next option is to start at Top of the World and complete a loop in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. 

This route is more challenging and includes several trails that are rated by the park as difficult. If you are already located in Laguna Beach this option is a great place to start. 

Option #3: The Difficult Route

The longest and most difficult route starts at the staging area for Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. 

Again, these trails are rated as difficult, plus with the additional length, I would not recommend this option unless you are a regular hiker. Starting here might make sense if you are located on the inland side of OC, not already in Laguna Beach.

In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know about each option!

View over Laguna Beach from Top of the World

How to Hike to Top of the World in Laguna Beach, California

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Know Before You Go:

  • There is no shade on most of these routes so bring a sunhat and lots of water.
  • These trails are shared with mountain bikers, which may be going downhill quickly. Be prepared to move out of the way if necessary.
  • Follow the easy route for a dog-friendly hike to Top of the World. Keep him on his leash,  don’t let him go off the trail, and don’t forget his water!
  • Watch for snakes – you may see one crossing the trail from time to time.
  • Sometimes you’ll see a layer of fog over the ocean, which might block your view. Check the weather and go when the sky is clear if the ocean view is important to you.
West Ridge Trail to Top of the World

Easy Route – West Ridge Trail to Top of the World

The easiest hiking option to Top of the World is through West Ridge Trail. It’s a simple out-and-back hike on a trail rated by the park as easy. 

West Ridge Trail is a popular route for hikers, mountain bikers, and doggies! Yes, this is the only trail in the park that is dog friendly, so the pup can hike all the way to Top of the World with you. 

You can either start your hike at Top of the World or at Canyon View Park in Aliso Viejo. 

If you start at Canyon View Park you can use the free street parking. Walk to the back right corner where you will find a paved hill to go up on the right. At the top of that hill is where West Ridge Trail begins. Follow to the end where you’ll be rewarded with an ocean view.

Recommended route: West Ridge Trail to Top of the World

  • Total hiking time: 2 hours
  • Length: 5.4 miles

Moderate Route – Start at Top of the World

Another option is to start your hike from Top of the World. If you are in Laguna Beach already this option makes the most sense since it is the closest starting point.

Top of the World has free but limited parking. There are a few spots on the street plus a parking lot at Alta Laguna Park. Plan on getting there early or waiting for a spot during weekends or sunset hour.

These options have trails that are rated by OC Parks as difficult, so go prepared with your standard hiking gear

Recommended route: Top of the World Loop 

  • Total hiking time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Length: 6.5 miles

*Note: Car Wreck Trail is one of the must-see hikes in Laguna Beach. Dripping Cave is also pretty cool. So if you’re looking for a really cool shorter hike, try the last option below.

Want a shorter hike? Check out one of these trails for a shorter route:

Difficult Route – Start at Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

The most difficult hiking route to Top of the World starts at the staging/parking area for Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

You’ll pay $3 for all-day parking using a machine that accepts bills, quarters, Visa or Mastercard. You can also buy an annual OC Parks pass ahead of time for $80.

These options have trails that are rated by OC Parks as difficult, so go prepared with your standard hiking gear

If you are a beginner I don’t recommend starting with this option. Go back to the easy option at the beginning of this post for a beginner-level hike.

Recommended hike: Loop to Top of the World via Mathis and Car Wreck

  • Total hiking time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Length: 8.8 miles

Looking for more of a challenge? Check out one of these trails for a longer route:

View of Orange County from Top of the World

The Easiest Route of All

Don’t feel like hiking? Just drive to Top of the World instead! 

Bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a day in the sun with those amazing views, or watch the sunset! Parking is free at Alta Laguna Park

Before you go, grab my free SoCal Bucket List!


I hope this helps you plan your day of fun in the sun hiking to Top of the World. Let me know if you have any questions!

READ NEXT:

12 Easy Hikes in Orange County with an Amazing View

12 Awesome Laguna Beach Activities You Can Do for Free

How to Spend a Day in Crystal Cove State Park


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