Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is a major regional park in the San Joaquin Hills of Orange County. The park is about 4,500 acres of rugged beautiful coastal canyons, open prairie like grassland, and riparian woodlands. This park is designated as a wildlife sanctuary with plenty of wildlife to encounter, including occasional sightings of deer, coyote, and more.
The park’s amenities include miles of trails designed for both hiking and mountain biking. Plus horseback riding friendly trails as well. There is also a paved greenbelt and bikeway along Aliso Creek and more.
Here’s a look at everything you can enjoy at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park Details
Address: 28373 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Park Hours: Sun – Sat: 7:00 AM – Sunset
Visitor Center Hours: Monday–Friday 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
What’s At Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
There are approximately 4,500 acres of natural open space to explore within the park. Including over 30 miles of official maintained trails. Here are a few to try.
Dripping Cave is a must see for hikers at this location. Park in the Awma Road lot and follow the Aliso Creek Trail to Wood Canyon Trail. Follow the signs to Dripping Cave Trail and you’ll find this fun cave where legend says cattle thieves used to hide out. From the Awma Road lot, this hike is about 5 miles out and back but is relatively flat the whole way.
Cave Rock is a must see geological feature that can be reached also by Aliso Creek and Wood Canyon trails. Just look for the Cave Rock Trail sign and follow the loop to Cave Rock. This is about four miles out and back from the Awma Road lot, but is mostly flat.
Top of the World gives you a stunning view of the ocean and surrounding areas. This approximately two and a half mile hike includes some elevation change with a few steep spots. Parking for this trail is in a residential area at the end of Canyon Acres Drive. You can use the address 580 Canyon Acres Drive to find parking and take the Canyon Acres Trail until it ends. Turn right at the West Ridge Trail. Stay on the main trail and head uphill to Top Of The World and enjoy the view from the bench. If you want to visit Top Of The World without all the work, park at Alta Laguna Park and take the short hike directly to Top Of The World.
Car Wreck Trail is a popular destination where hikers can see the remains of an old 1946 Dodge. To see the car you can start at Alta Laguna Park and follow the West Ridge Trail to the Car Wreck Trail for an out and back. Turn it into a loop by continuing along Car Wreck Trail to Oak Grove Trail and looping back on Mathis Canyon Trail where you’ll circle back to the West Ridge Trail and head back to where you started. This is a difficult hike with some steep terrain so be prepared.
Pecten Reef Loop is a fun spot to see the remnants of marine fossils embedded in the ancient sea floor. You can make this a short mile and a half out and back by parking on Laguna Hills Drive near Sheep Hills Park. Just past the park you’ll follow the tunnel going under Moulton Parkway and walk along the paved Aliso Creek Bike Trail to enter Aliso and Wood Canyons. Follow the trail to the Pecten Reef Loop trail signs and keep an eye out for fossils. If you want to make this a longer walk, park in the Awma Road lot and follow the Aliso Creek Bike Trail all the way to the Pecten Reef Loop.
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The Visitor Center is designed to be child friendly with interactive exhibits and a large wrap-around observation deck. Here you will see hand painted murals, archaeological and paleontological displays, a full-scale diorama with taxidermy creatures, shrubs, trees, and grasses and more. Other features include restrooms with plumbing.
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park Events
Discovery Hike at Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
This moderate rating 5 mile ranger led hike takes you all around the park. You will learn about this history and wildlife as you take in the unique sights and smells. You must be 16 years of age to participate and pre registration is required.
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Kaitlin is a former ballerina who now travels around the country in an 18-foot converted school bus. Her and her husband have welcomed 34 sweet children into their home the past eleven years. Although they would not be a forever home for all of them, they adopted their daughter buckets and are legal guardians to their son monkey. Follow their crazy adventures on Instagram @runawaymusbus