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Salt Creek Beach

Old Saddleback from the Salt Creek Trail

Salt Creek Beach from Chapparosa Park

    • Location: Chapparosa Park, 25191 Chapparosa Park Road, Laguna Niguel.  From I-5, take the Crown Valley Parkway exit.  Drive southwest for 0.2 miles and turn left on Cabot.  Drive 0.6 miles and turn right on Paseo de Colinas.  Drive 0.9 miles and turn left on Golden Lantern.  Drive 1.4 miles and turn right onto Chapparosa Park Road.  Drive 0.7 miles and park in the far lot, by the baseball field.
    • Agency: City of Laguna Niguel; County of Orange
    • Distance: 7.8 miles
    • Elevation gain: 600 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG
    • Suggested time: 3.5 hours
    • Best season: September – May
    • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
    • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
    • USGS topo maps: San Juan Capistrano; Dana Point
    • More information: Salt Creek Beach page here; Laguna Niguel trail page here; Everytrail report here
    • Rating: 3

If hiking on a paved bike path doesn’t bother you, this long trip to Salt Creek Beach can be an enjoyable hike with a lot of scenic variety. And even if hiking on a bike path isn’t your thing, this route can be a good one to keep in mind as a training trip for longer hikes, especially on hot days (such as those we’ve recently had). Although the trail is almost entirely exposed, its proximity to the coast usually keeps the temperatures moderate.

From the end of Chapparosa Community Park, pick up the bike path heading southwest into the Salt Creek Corridor. A dirt trail runs parallel to the bike path for the first leg of the trip, to Niguel Road. Although the signs of civilization are plenty, this part of the route is usually pleasantly quiet.

At 0.9 miles in, you cross under Niguel Road and continue south. Stay right at the first junction and left at the second (these are spurs that lead to Niguel Road) and make an ascent. This next portion of the hike suffers much more from road noise than the previous leg, but you also get some nice views of Old Saddleback and your first looks at the ocean.

At 2.1 miles, you cross under Camino del Avion, and pass by the golf course. After this pleasant but not very interesting stretch, you cross under Pacific Coast Highway. Follow the signs for the public trails to Salt Creek Beach. A concrete path parallels the beach, passes by Salt Creek Park and continues to the Niguel Marine Wildlife Refuge, tucked beneath some towering bluffs and the Ritz Carlton hotel. From here, you get great views of Dana Point to the south and the coastline up toward Newport to the north. This makes a good turnaround point, although the trail does continue south along the beach.

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.  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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