Elevator & Slow’n’Easy Loop (Crystal Cove State Park)


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Sunset from Bommer Ridge
Geology on the Elevator Trail

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.

Elevator & Slow’n’Easy Loop (Crystal Cove State Park)

  • 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: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: October – June
  • USGS topo map: Laguna Beach
  • Recommended gear: sunblockwidth=
  • More information: here; park map here.
  • Rating: 6

This is a nice, moderate loop hike that visits some of the secluded canyons and high ridges of Crystal Cove State Park’s back country.  There is very little shade on the route, so plan accordingly.

The hike begins on the Bommer Ridge Trail, from the Pacific Ridge trailhead in Newport Coast.  The beginning of the hike might not seem promising, paralleling the 73 toll road, but before long, you angle away from the freeway and suburban Orange County.  Stay straight as the Deer Canyon trail branches off to the right at 0.4 miles.  In another 0.4 miles, turn right on the unmarked Slow’n’Easy trail.  You head downhill and soon arrive at a junction.  It is easier to descend the steep Elevator Trail (left) and return via the Slow’n’Easy Trail in a clockwise loop, but if you’re up for a challenge, consider going counter-clockwise.  Doing this will give you nice ocean views as you descend.

For this post, however, we’ll take the loop clockwise.  Head left on the steep Elevator Trail, which descends 0.4 miles into quiet Moro Canyon.  Note some interesting sandstone geology on the left side of the trail.

At the bottom of the hill, bare right onto the Moro Canyon trail.  Follow it for a nice, cool and quiet 0.3 miles until you get to an unsigned junction.  This is the bottom end of the Slow’n’Easy trail.  Head right and begin your ascent, taking in nice ocean views.  After 1.25 miles, you arrive back at the split, just below Bommer Ridge.

For variety, on your return, consider taking the single-track Fenceline Trail. It branches off to the left of the Slow’N’Easy trail, and follows, well, the fence, paralleling Bommer.  When you get to Deer Canyon, take a right and follow it to the Bommer Ridge Trail, where you go left and retrace your steps to the parking lot.

The trails in this route tend to get washed out during the rainy months and are subject to closure.  The area can get hot during the summer, but with an early or late start (sunsets here are great), and with good preparation, it’s an enjoyable and convenient hike.

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