Park Avenue Nature Trail (Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park)
- Location: Hills north of Laguna Beach in south Orange County. From I-405, take the highway 133 exit south for 8.5 miles. Turn left on Forest, which becomes 3rd St, and after 0.3 miles total take a left onto Park Ave. Go 1.8 miles on Park to its terminus in Alta Laguna Drive, and head left, and park at the end of the street.
- Agency: Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
- Distance: 1.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty: PG
- Best season: All year (Hot during the summer)
- USGS topo map: “San Juan Capistrano”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
Readers may notice that this trail’s name spells the word PANT, which is what you’ll be doing a lot of, especially if the day is hot. As short as this trail is, it’s surprisingly challenging.
This trail never gets far away from the nearby residential streets, but it still has a rugged feel, due to its steep descent, interesting sandstone geology and relative lack of foot traffic. The Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park trailhead at Alta Laguna Park is the starting point for this short loop.
From the northwest end of Alta Laguna Drive, follow the fire road, but stay straight as the West Ridge Trail branches off. Another spur to the right leads to the Carolyn Wood knoll, a vista point worth checking out if you have the time.
The Park Avenue Nature Trail descends, staying left as the Canyon Acres Trail branches of to the right. Enjoy the views of the canyon and the ocean in front of you before the trail makes a very steep descent.
After dropping 400 feet in about half a mile, you find yourself pleasantly isolated from the sights and sounds of the nearby residential streets. The trail winds around the side of the hill, passing by some interesting sandstone outcrops, before beginning an ascent back to Park Avenue. You reconnect with Park Avenue a mile from the start. Turn left and continue your climb on the paved street, which brings you to Alta Laguna Drive. Turn left and walk the last quarter mile to the car.
If you have time, you can continue to explore this side of Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park by continuing north along the West Ridge 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. 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.