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.
Pacific Ridge Trail
- Location: Coastal Peak Park, Newport Coast. From the 73 toll road, take the MacArthur exit (the last one that’s free). Merge onto MacArthur, go 2.3 miles and turn left on San Joaquin Hills Road. Go 2.5 miles, turn right onto Ridge Park Road and drive 1.8 miles to the end, and access the trail from Coastal Peak Park. From P.C.H., take Newport Coast Drive north for 2.4 miles, turn right on Ridge Park Road and drive 1.5 miles to Coastal Peak Park.
- Agency: Crystal Cove State Park/Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
- Distance: 2.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Laguna Beach
- Recommended gear: Sunblock
- More information: here; park map here.
- Rating: 6
The Ridge Park trailhead, high in the hills of Newport Coast, is an access point for both Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Many possible hikes can originate from here, sharing in common great ocean views, interesting geology and in the spring, vibrant wildflowers. The Pacific Ridge Trail, in the northwestern corner of Crystal Cove State Park, offers a nice sampling of all of the above. There’s virtually no shade, however, so keep that in mind.
From the gate at the end of Ridge Park Road, head right on the Pacific Ridge Trail. For the first few minutes, you parallel the park and then pass by a residential area, before descending and crossing briefly through Laguna Coast Wilderness. Views include Catalina and San Clemente Islands, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Santa Ana Mountains and more. Look for a sandstone outcrop on the left side of the trail, with some small caves; it’s pretty accessible and invites further exploration (be careful, though).
After about a mile, the trail makes a major descent, and soon comes to a junction. Here, the Ticketron Trail branches off to the left, and the main trail continues deeper into Crystal Cove State Park as the No-Name Ridge trail. Unfortunately, the Ticketron Trail is closed as of this writing, but when it re-opens, it is possible to make a loop of this hike by using it to access the Deer Canyon and Bommer Ridge trails.
You can extend your hike farther to the south, but if you’re pressed for time, this is a good turnaround spot. On the way back, look for nice views of Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels.