Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously pronounced, “Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep.”
And to that we say: Same.
I mean, is there anything better than walking among wild, overgrown flora or taking in a blue, blue sky from a path winding among craggy cliffside? Experience Newport Beach nature in all its wintry glory with these five hikes that’ll prove why they call this coast the best one yet …
El Moro Trails & Crystal Cove State Beach
8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Why it’s awesome: Rambling among the dips and soars of the El Moro Trails reminds you how vast the land is upon which your nimble feet travel and how there’s so much more to Newport than merely a beach.
What to expect: This hike is definitely not for the faint of heart. Surging hillside, sharp climbs and gnarly switchbacks make the El Moro Trails quite the challenge. Easy treadmill equivalent this ain’t.
Bommer Canyon and Deer Canyon Loop
11 Bommer Canyon, Irvine, CA 92603
Why it’s awesome: Once the site of the old Irvine Ranch Cattle Camp—the epicenter for Irvine Company’s cattle operations from the 1880s until the 1970s—the Bommer Canyon trail still offers vestiges of its rich heritage. Original structures from the ranch scattered along the way give your hike a twist of the surprisingly bucolic.
What to expect: An 8.4 mile-loop with vibrant bursts of wildflowers, the occasional historic cattle-ranch relic and lilting hillside that’s trickier to traverse than it looks. In fact, the trail is rated “difficult,” so beginning hikers beware.
Back Bay Loop Trail
600 Shellmaker Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Why it’s awesome: This paved walkway is ideal for bikers, casual perambulators and those simply not wanting to get their shoes too messy on dirt roads.
What to expect: An attractive, flat—and fairly popular—hiking course that meanders its way around the swampy Back Bay and offers impressive glances of Newport Beach’s natural scenery in its prime. An exemplary locale for lovers of butterflies and birds.
Top Of The World/Alta Laguna Park
3299 Alta Laguna Blvd, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Why it’s awesome: Nope, it’s not in Newport but still! Watching a golden sunset melt into a horizon separated by ocean and sky from the western-most precipice of this park is nothing short of magic.
What to expect: A web of quiet hiking trails spring from the zenith of Alta Laguna, with direct access to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The trails at Aliso and Wood Canyons vary in difficulty from flat, wide fire roads to single-track, windy paths through the canyons. Spoiler alert: Whether you choose smooth or steep paths, there’s no wrong decision here; every trail in this park is a winner.
Buck Gully Reserve
San Joaquin Hills Rd, Newport Coast, CA 92657
Why it’s awesome: This natural, coastal canyon provides enticing views of both the untamed and exceptionally urbanized areas of Newport Beach. Where else can you walk among swathes of feral greenery and also be this close to Pelican Hill, the exclusive, high-end neighborhood Kobe Bryant calls home?
What to expect: An incredible Pacific Ocean vista from the top of the trail that makes its somewhat-perilous climb worth all the trouble.