Big Bend Trail Loop is accessible from Laguna Canyon Road and, for the first and last 1/4 – 1/2 a mile, the noise from the road is still audible. However, as you continue the steep incline at the entrance of the loop, you will be utterly ill-prepared for the sweeping views that grow more stunning the further you go up.
Big Bend Trail parking lot is on the right-hand side of Laguna Canyon, as you are driving towards Laguna Beach. Close in proximity to Willow Canyon Staging Area, where you can access the Stage Coach to Laurel Canyon Trail, the paid parking is just a stone’s throw West. We arrived at 11:30 am and were just able to get a parking spot. Like all the trails near the beach in Orange County, parking for Big Bend fills up fast, so get there early.
Since this hike is a loop you can start from either direction. We chose to start to the left, where you will see a painting on an easel of the trail you are going to hike. Laguna Beach is a very artsy city so paintings like these are everywhere. We even saw someone painting the surrounding landscape on the last mile our hike. If you start the loop by going right on Willow Canyon Trail, the first part of your journey will be flatter. I am in favor of getting the hard stuff out of the way first, whether hiking or otherwise. With this in mind, my husband and I were more than happy to hoof it up the hill knowing that we would be doing less damage on our knees coming down the other direction.
The views on this hike truly don’t quit. Between snow-capped mountains to our right, moody blue and green hills in the distance, and the sparkling ocean lighting our path to the left, we were in awe of our natural surroundings the entire journey.
After turning right onto Bommer Ridge, make sure to take a peek behind you at the sparkling water. The photo at the start of this post was taken along Bommer Ridge and, with its flat terrain and diverse landscape, it is one of the best spots to take pictures. Bommer Ridge is a long trail that stretches all the way to Crystal Cove State Park. To continue on this loop, however, turn right onto Willow Canyon. You will stay on Willow Canyon throughout the duration of this hike. This trail takes you downward and to the right, then finally straight ahead to cut through Willow Canyon Staging Area’s parking, then into Big Bend’s parking lot. Willow Canyon is covered with greenery and dotted with wildflowers, which turns out is the perfect combination to get me jumping for joy 😉
In total, including the time it took to stop for pictures and hunt for my sunglasses in a bed of grass, which I had flung into said grass to take said picture, it took us 2 1/2 hours to complete this 5-mile hike. It was a warm, winter day, even by Orange County standards, so after our hike, we drove up the canyon and hung a left on PCH to enjoy a pint at one of our favorite San Clemente breweries, Artifex. If you have the time after hiking Big Bend Trail Loop I would highly recommend stopping there for a glass of their Unicorn Juice brew, if for no other reason than to tell your friends the name of the beer you just drank.
Did you hike Big Bend Loop Trail in Laguna Beach? If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
In Love, Peace, and Hiking ~ xo