Trails: 16 named trails
Miles of Trails: Around 17 miles total
Cost: $15 for an All Day Parking Pass
It’s a tradition in my wife’s family that we go to Newport Beach, CA for a week each summer, and it’s been that way as long as I’ve known her (going on 13 years now). After welcoming a new baby into our family just a month before the scheduled trip in 2011 we were unable to go last year, but the year before was my first trip to Newport Beach as a runner. In fact, it was only my 2nd or 3rd week of running, and I bought my first pair of “minimal” shoes while I was there (Nike Free 3.0s). During my stay on the beach, I ran the boardwalk a total of three times for a grand total of maybe 10 miles my entire vacation. Being a much stronger runner than I was then, and having discovered trail running as well, I was determined to not spend all my time running a concrete boardwalk that never turns, ascends, or descends. I was sure that there had to be some great trails in a place as beautiful as Orange County, so I set to work searching for some online and stumbled into Orange County Trail Runners, who graciously has a map on their website with great trails all over the area.
What I found was Crystal Cove State Park, and more specifically, El Moro Canyon, which is just across the PCH from the oceanside park. The two areas of the park really couldn’t be more different. The oceanside park has several miles of flat-ish trails winding through scenic oceanfront vegetation, tide pools, and beachside cliffs. Across the street there are canyons, river trails, bluffs, and ridges waiting, along with picturesque vistas as you run towards the ocean. Unlike the oceanside trails though, they come with a price: the trails can consist of some very tough climbs, with a low-point of around 50 ft above sea level and a high-point nearing 1100 ft.