Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hiking Crystal Cove State Park - El Moro Ridge Trail Loop

While visiting my sister-in-law and family in Southern California for Thanksgiving we did manage do a pretty cool hike at Crystal Cove State Park. We hiked the Moro Ridge Trail and did a loop back on the Moro Canyon trail. There were some nice climbs and great views.

We drove from Ladera Ranch and it wasn't far. Only about a half hour drive to the State Park. We parked by the ranger station to check out the trail map. There is also a fee to pay for parking. 
You can either pay $5 per hour or $15 for the whole day. We opted for the hourly rate and paid $10 for 2 hours because we knew we would not be there the whole day and had to get back to put the turkey in the oven and prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. 

There are bathrooms at the ranger station which is always nice and we had the kiddos use the facilities before we departed for our hike. The ranger station is also very informative because they give you trail suggestions and a nice big map to look at. Inside is some sort of exhibit with maps and animals but we did not have time to look at it all.
We opted for the difficult hike which by their info sheet would take 2 hours. From experience, the times they mention are usually generous so we figured it would be just right. We wanted a challenge and a hike with views. Looking at the map below, starting from the lower trailhead, we took the yellow trail up and then came back down on the blue trail 
We did save some hiking distance by parking at the lower lot that was closer to the Day Use Area. Here is the start of our hike.
The first 1.25 miles of the hike was a nice climb. Lots of up and even some pretty steep sections for the kids. Not sure if you can tell, but this part was once of those steep sections.
The best thing about hiking up is that it means great views. When we got to the top, we could see Newport Beach, Long Beach, along with Catalina Island. 
There is a nice flat section after the big climb. 
It is nice because the route has these signs to tell you exactly where you are. They are along the route in multiple spots and importantly trail junctions.
After the flat part, there were some good downhills and then it was fairly flat again. Cool scenery while in the canyon.
The kiddos had fun looking for rocks, finding sticks, and just playing around with their cousins. There were some tough spots for them and we took lots of breaks and of course had snacks, but overall they did awesome.
The hike was 4 miles total. We actually made pretty good time because it took us 2 hours and 6 minutes and that was with all of our breaks. So proud of the kiddos as usual. :) It was a great hike with awesome views! Crystal Cove State Park is a great place for all especially because there are so many trail options so you can make it as easy or strenuous hike as you want. I definitely recommend the place if you are in the area!

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