Text and photography copyright 2011 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.
Colinas Bluff Trail
- Location: Laguna Niguel, on the corner of Marina Hills and Golden Lantern. From I-5, take the Crown Valley Parkway exit. Go southwest on Crown Valley for 0.3 miles, and go left on Cabot. After 0.6 miles, go right on Paseo De Colinas. After 0.9 miles, go left on Golden Lantern. After a mile, park in the shopping center on the right side of the road (just past Marina Hills).
- Agency: City of Laguna Niguel
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: Year-round
- USGS topo map: “San Juan Capistrano”
- More information: here; trip report here
- Rating: 5
If you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to get more exercise, and live in south Orange County, the Colinas Bluff Trail is a good place to start. The 3-mile hike here can easily be expanded upon, and it makes a good training trip for experienced hikers.
From the shopping center (I didn’t promise you wilderness here, people), cross Golden Lantern, head south briefly and pick up the trail on the left. You head uphill, and if the air is clear, you get nice views of the San Gabriel Mountains. At a summit, the trail dips down, still paralleling the housing tracts of Laguna Niguel. On the left, you can see almost all of south Orange County, with Old Saddleback standing imposingly in the background, and on the right, the ocean comes into view.
Soon you come to a steep second hill. At the top, you get the best views yet of the hike. The Shea Trail branches off at this point, and the Colinas Bluff trail continues downhill, but if you’re short on time, this is a good place to turn around.