Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Valdido Trail to Aliso Peak
- Location: South of Laguna Beach on Pacific Coast Highway. From downtown Laguna Beach, take P.C.H. south for 3.5 miles. Go left on West St. and make a quick left onto Valdido Road. Park on the corner of Valdido and Toto Loma.
- Agency: Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
- Distance: 1.6 miles (out and back)
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty: PG
- Best season: All year
- USGS topo map: “San Juan Capistrano”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- More information: here
- Rating: 5
The Valdido trail is a short, but quite steep, route to Aliso Peak. It climbs up quickly from just above the Pacific Coast Highway to meet the trail from Seaview Park just below the summit.
From Valdido Road, take the trail north into the park. Almost immediately, the sounds of the street fade as you enter a steep-walled canyon. The first portion of the trail is flat, but once you cross the creek, you step on nature’s version of an elevator. Wooden stairs help as you make the steep ascent, and when you stop to catch your breath you’ll be rewarded with great ocean views. On clear days, look for Catalina and San Clemente Islands.
Soon, the trail arrives at a saddle, where it meets the trail from Seaview. Here, you get nice views of the rest of the park, and on some days, you can see the San Gabriels. Take a left and follow the trail to the summit, where you get an aerial view of the coast.
Retrace your steps to the junction, and if you have time, check out the short Toovet trail, which wraps around the south slope of Aliso Peak and provides views of the ocean that are arguably better than those from the summit.