A hike along Stage Coach South Trail to Laurel Canyon in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness in the outdoors. Later this month my sister will be leaving for a study abroad program to South Africa. I will miss her terribly and am savoring the precious time we have to connect before she leaves. More than that, however, I am excited for her to begin a new adventure. She is pretty stoked too; can’t you tell?
I had big plans to hike in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on New Year’s Day so I could witness it’s bright, green glory after the rain. As luck would have it, most of the OC Parks were closed last weekend, but that didn’t stop me from trekking through the vibrant, emerald hills with my husband in our community. I had already planned on hiking with my sister this past Saturday, but as of Friday night, the OC Parks website still had an alert for wet and muddy conditions. When I woke up the next morning to see that the alert had been lifted, I was beyond thrilled. I met my sister at Kona Coffee, cruised down Laguna Canyon Road, and parked at Willow Canyon Staging area to hit the trails.
The parking lot was already busy when we arrived at 10am. By the time we finished our hike at 12:30pm the lot was temporarily full. Hiking trails near Orange County’s beaches are popular for both locals and tourists, so if you want to hike Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on the weekend, I suggest arriving early.
There was a sign-in table near the parking lot and an OC Parks volunteer there provided us with a map and his suggestion for the prettiest loop in the park. We heeded his advice and set off on a 5.5 mile hike along Stage Coach South Trail to Camarillo Canyon Trail, Serrano Ridge Trail, then along Upper Laurel Canyon and Laurel Canyon.
There is a short path from the parking lot to Stage Coach South Trail called Laurel Canyon Hiking. To start our loop we veered right onto Stage Coach South Trail, which runs alongside Laguna Canyon Road and then under the 73 Tollroad. The traffic noise was minimal and the trail curved away from the street often enough so that we barely noticed it. Stage Coach South Trail continues for a few more miles, but we turned left when we got to Camarillo Canyon trail so that we could loop back around. Both trails are flat and, while the terrain was mostly rocks and hills, moss grew wild as a result of the recent rain.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather on this hike. Although these trails don’t offer water views, the cool air coming off of the Pacific Ocean greeted us every step of the way. A point of interest on this hike is the fault line that runs through an open field surrounded by hills as Stage Coach South Trail approaches Camarillo Canyon Trail. The OC Parks volunteer told us about the fault line beforehand, so we were on the lookout and took advantage of the scenic backdrop.
Since rain in Southern California is so rare, I am always in awe of how green our local parks and hiking trails get after weeks of on and off showers. The raw beauty of our area is made that much more beautiful by a little love from Mother Nature 🙂
You better believe I was more than happy to get my boots muddy for the second weekend in a row! Once you come up Camarillo Canyon Trail, you briefly connect on Serrano Ridge Trail, before making a left on Upper Laurel Canyon. This stretch of the hike has ample hills, without which I would have rated this loop easy. It is also along Upper Laurel Canyon and Laurel Canyon trails that the paths are more forested. With the clear day and light pouring in, the scene before was very peaceful.
I was beyond grateful to be able to do this hike at all, let alone with the company of my little sister. There is something about getting out on a dirt path still wet from the rain that spurs my adventurous spirit. We don’t get a lot of untouched wilderness in Orange County so I loved every minute of hiking the trails in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park with so few people around. I know that when my sister goes to study abroad in South Africa she will have so many new experiences and I’m glad that this was one that we could share together before she leaves.
Did you go on a hike in Orange County recently with all the rain we’ve been having? If so, where?
Also, I would love to hear from you in the comments below if you tried this hike!
In Love, Peace, and Hiking ~ xo