El Moro of the Story

A Hike in El Moro Canyon, a Dip in Moro Beach

El Moro Canyon Loop Trail in Crystal Cove State Park offers a leg workout, canyon views, ocean views—and, ta-da!—beach access. The challenging 5-mile (round-trip) loop trail passes through the 2,400-acre Crystal Cove Wilderness backcountry, showcasing the best of Orange County along the way. Leaving from the ranger station, follow the dirt path leading toward the day-use area (you can also start from here to shave a mile off the total).

From there, cross over the wooden bridge and follow the Moro Canyon Trail through a brief riparian woodland of oak, sycamores, and willows paralleling seasonal Moro Creek before veering right on the E. Cut Across trail, forming a clockwise loop. This is where the hike gets more challenging. No shade, and most of the 700 feet of elevation gain is packed into the next mile. Be sure to watch your step; this is rattlesnake turf, and lots of them hang out in the coastal sage scrub surrounding the trail.

After you make a right onto the Moro Ridge Trail, the rest of the way is flat or downhill, offering spectacular views of Laguna Beach and Newport Beach below. Admire the multimillion-dollar mansions dotting the cliffside and watch sailboats drift by as you head back toward the coast. Cool sea breezes offer a break from the dry heat of the canyon, and the ocean below beckons as you breathe in the salty air. Follow the BFI Trail to complete the loop. BFI? Well, euphemisticaly, Big Fat Incline.

Gallery image 1 of 11
Gallery image 2 of 11
Gallery image 3 of 11
Gallery image 4 of 11
Gallery image 5 of 11
Gallery image 6 of 11
Gallery image 7 of 11
Gallery image 8 of 11
Gallery image 9 of 11
Gallery image 10 of 11
Gallery image 11 of 11

NOW, THE BEACH! Reward yourself with some R&R at Moro Beach before heading back to the ranger station. It’s an easy walk. Stop when you reach the day-use parking area at the end of the BFI Trail and cut across the parking lot to find the beach-access tunnel. Much of the beach is surrounded by 80-foot bluffs, so keep an eye on the tide. The narrow beach doesn’t offer much in the way of facilities, but it sure is perfect for cooling off after a hike!

Crystal Cove State Park is between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, about 2 miles south of the intersection of Newport Coast Dr. and CA-1. Turn inland on School/State Park to park in either the day-use area or at the ranger station/visitor center (fee applies). The parking lots can get crowded, so get there early. No dogs.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Easiest Best Hike in the World

    Choose the easiest and most view-rewarding hike in Yosemite. Okay, we’ll go first: the combination of hiking to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. Both of these lookouts are within a couple miles of each other on Glacier Point Road

    View
  2. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    All Roads Lead to Rogue

    Idea for your next road trip: Go Rogue! The Rogue Valley in beautiful Southern Oregon has some of the state’s best hiking, swim holes, and wineries, and the charming historic towns of Ashland, Medford, and Jacksonville.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Bouquet of Waterfalls

    Like a good love letter, some of the best hiking trails are short and sweet. Cue the hike to Bouquet Falls in Santa Clarita Valley’s Bouquet Canyon.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    National Parks Road Trip: Circle of Discovery!

    Love national parks? Love road trips? Combine the two on one fabulous Circle of Discovery route in Northern California and Southern Oregon! This itinerary features 7 national parks with wondrous features.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Secret Beach

    A hidden beach and a killer view? Those are hard to come by, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Perles Beach on Angel Island. This pocket cove is worth the 1.5-mile trek to get there.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Magical McClures

    McClures Beach is a seductive little spot: small, beautiful, and quiet. It’s easy to while away an afternoon-turned-sunset at this pocket cove in Point Reyes.

    View