Lizard Trail, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Lizard Trail Loop (Laguna Coast Wilderness Park)

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  • 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: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 550 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: October – June
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Cell phone reception: Good at the trail head and on the Bommer Ridge Trail; weak to none on the Lizard Trail
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None (nearest available camping is at Crystal Cove State Park; for more information, click here.)
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
  • More information: Map My Hike report here; Hiking Project page here; video of a downhill mountain bike ride on the trail here
  • Rating: 6

Updated July 2018

Like the Mentally Sensitive Trail in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, the Lizard Trail in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a formerly unauthorized use trail that has been legitimized by the park. The easiest way to explore this 1.2 mile trail is from the Coastal Peak Park trail head, requiring 0.7 mile of hiking on the Bommer Ridge Trail each way. This write-up describes a loop including a longer stretch of the Bommer Ridge Trail, but hikers can also elect to do the hike as a 3.8-mile out and back trip.

From the trail head, follow the rolling Bommer Ridge Trail for 0.7 mile (passing the junctions with the Pacific Ridge and Red Tail Ridge Trails). If you are going to do the hike as a loop, going counter-clockwise is recommended; the ascent is more moderate and has a little bit of shade when done this way. You also save the Lizard Trail, which is the most interesting part of the route, for last. Continue along the Bommer Ridge Trail which soon forks (both routes run parallel to each other so you can take either). Just under two miles from the start, you reach a junction with the Willow Spur Trail, a fire road that is part of the popular Laurel Canyon loop. Take a hard left and descend for 0.4 mile to the signed lower end of the Lizard Trail.

Almost immediately, the Lizard Trail leads you into the welcome shade of some live oaks. The trail follows the upper end of Laurel Canyon, passing by some small caves (considered to be off trail and therefore off limits to hikers), heading in and out of the woods. Although you may see and hear cars from the nearby 73 Toll Road, for the most part this leg of the hike feels pleasantly secluded.

The gradual ascent becomes more pronounced as the trail head southwest. The trail climbs about 200 feet over exposed terrain to rejoin Bommer Ridge. From here, turn right and retrace your steps 0.7 mile back to the trail head.

Lizard Trail, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Lower end of the Lizard Trail
Lizard Trail, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Oaks on the Lizard Trail
Lizard Trail, Laguna Coast Widlerness Park, Orange County, CA
Looking back from before the ascent to the Bommer Ridge Trail

Text and photography copyright 2018 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.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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