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USA/West: Laguna Beach, CA
Coastal Canyons of Yesteryear
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and trail maps
will help you navigate the park and decide which trails—including about a dozen loop trails—to walk or mountain bike on. Bike and mountain bikes can be rented at Laguna Beach Cyclery
, which also serves espresso to get you quickly on your way.
Some Laguna Coast Wilderness Park trails are steep and should only be attempted by experienced walkers and hikers. It’s wise to park at the Nix Nature Center and let personnel there guide you to the trails with the best ocean or canyon views that meet your ability. Guided tours by park staff or volunteer naturalists are also available.
If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of two endangered species—the California gnatcatcher and the orange-throated whiptail. The gnatcatcher is a blue-gray songbird that measures only 4 1/2 inches; the whiptail is a two- to three-inch striped lizard with an orange throat. Other wildlife in the park include horned lizards, coyotes, bobcats, weasels, deer, red-tailed hawks, coastal cactus wrens and snakes.
After exploring the park, which has only been open since 1993, a refreshing swim at a nearby beach may be in order. Main Beach
in downtown Laguna Beach has a boardwalk area, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts and picnic tables. There are also tide pools—fragile marine ecosystems protected by law.
Aliso Beach Park
has large sandy beaches popular with bathers, paddle boarders, skim boarders and surfers. In July, the county park hosts the Skimboarding World Championship.
Ocean kayak tours—perfect for exploring the area’s unique coastline and viewing sea lions—can be booked from La Vida Laguna
. The outfit also offers outdoor adventures and team-building events. They include a “shipwrecked” event in which teams on a deserted island must work together to cross a "lava" river, build shelter, cook food with solar ovens and distill drinking water from the ocean.