4 Coastal Trails to Explore in Orange County

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

During months of isolation, something as simple as walking around the neighborhood became the highlight of everyday routines. Spending time outdoors is a healthy habit—in more ways than one—that we hope to continue even as our lives return to their normal pace. To get you inspired, here are some of our favorite walks and bike paths in O.C. From leisurely seaside trails to uphill climbs in the canyon, find your perfect match.

Vista Del Sol Park, San Clemente
The fresh ocean breeze marks the start of this journey as you navigate the meandering walkways of a 1.7-mile loop. The meticulously manicured natural-surface path is lined with seasonal wildflowers, aromatic native plants such as California buckwheat, and specially designed fencing to protect the natural habitat. While the trail is mostly flat, staircases and footbridges allow for a change in terrain and vantage points. Plenty of benches throughout the bluff trail offer a chance to unwind and take in views of the ocean, passing trains, and San Clemente Pier. Round out the visit with access to the beach and nearby parks and playgrounds. You can also consult one of the posted maps to extend your walk on one of the adjacent trails. Dogs are welcome.


Brightwater Trail
City: Huntington Beach
Distance: 3 miles, out and back
Surface: Natural
Details: Walk along the wetlands of Bolsa Chica Conservancy and watch for wildlife, including a wide variety of native and migratory birds. You’ll also find great views of Bolsa Chica State Beach.

Badlands Park Trail
City: Laguna Niguel
Distance: 2.3 miles, out and back
Surface: Natural
Details: This high-elevation route quickly rewards with astounding ocean views. Don’t miss the stairs down to admire the sandstone slopes and interesting rock formations.

Bluff Top Trail
City: Dana Point
Distance: 0.2 mile, out and back
Surface: Paved
Details: What this trail lacks in length, it makes up tenfold in stunning views of Dana Point Harbor, the headlands, and San Clemente. Beautiful bougainvillea blooms, ruins of a resort, and a look at Dana Point’s history as a trading port are included.

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