If you like the depths as well as the heights, set out for Top of the World and Laguna Canyon. This is a 2.5-mile (round-trip) “reverse hike” in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. You’ll start by hiking downhill and finish with 700 feet of cardio climbing on the return journey. All in, it’s an efficient workout on Canyon Acres Trail, crossing the steep slope between the bottom of Laguna Canyon and the round 1,000-foot summit, Top of the World. Start by taking a short dirt road from the trailhead at Alta Laguna Park and up to the Top of the World. The vistas will beckon, but from the Top of the World, the only way to go is down! Descend Canyon Acres Trail, relishing big views up and down Laguna Canyon. Keep an eye to your right and spot a pair of small arches in the sandstone along the trail. As you near the canyon bottom, a loop in the trail will take you back up the canyon wall on the steep climb to Top of the World, where on a clear day the views blast out in all directions. Catalina Island and San Clemente Island command the blue waters to the west. Santiago Peak in the Santa Anas rises to the east, and Mount Baldy and the rest of the San Gabriel Mountains appear in the north. Hiker’s high!
BONUS: Keep the healthy streak going with breakfast or lunch on the patio at Zinc Cafe (350 Ocean Ave. in Laguna Beach). Their all-vegetarian menu includes a fresh take on huevos rancheros, with chunks of sweet mangos.
Start from Alta Laguna Park (3250 Alta Laguna Blvd.; map). Park in the lot or along the road outside the park. Hike past the end of Alta Laguna Blvd. to the small round summit at Top of the World. Take the path around the north side of the crest to find Canyon Acres Trail, descending west. Hike down the wide dirt trail for 0.6 mile to a loop that is 0.45 mile long, wrapping around a protrusion on the canyon wall. Circle it and hike back to the top (below the loop, Canyon Acres Trail descends another quarter mile to Canyon Acres Dr., a half-mile-long street off Laguna Canyon Rd. where street parking is permitted for residents only). The trail and café are dog-friendly!