Aliso Summit Trail

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On the Aliso Summit Trail in south Orange County
Old Saddleback from the Aliso Summit Trail

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.

Aliso Summit Trail

  • Location: Laguna Niguel.  From I-5, take the Alicia Parkway exit and go southeast for 4.7 miles.  Go right on Highlands and go 0.6 miles to the second of the two intersections with Ridgeview Drive.  Park on the street.  From Pacific Coast Highway, take Crown Valley Blvd for 2.9 miles, go left on Alicia Parkway, go left on Pacific Island Drive and go right on Highlands.  The trail head will be on your left after a mile, at the first intersection between Highlands and Ridgeview.
  • Agency: Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 350 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season:  Year round
  • USGS topo map: “San Juan Capistrano”
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
  • More information:  here
  • Rating: 3

This neighborhood trail provides great aerial views of Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, the ocean, Old Saddleback and if the air is clear, the San Gabriels and even San Jacinto Peak.  Wilderness it’s not, but it’s certainly a great place to get a good workout and fresh air.

The trail ascends steeply at first, passing around the back of some houses, and then it becomes more or less level as it makes its way along the ridge above Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.  At 1.25 miles, the trail arrives at a saddle where you might be able to catch a glimpse of San Jacinto Peak.  The route passes by a street in a gated community and heads slightly to the right as it climbs higher.  At 2 miles, the trail climbs around a water tank to reach its end at Pacific Island.

Like many of the neighborhood trails I’ve written about, the Aliso Summit Trail is a very worthwhile destination for families, for people who have wanted to explore the outdoors but aren’t sure where to start–and even for veterans who want a good, convenient training hike between wilderness expeditions.

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