Miles Of Mountain Trails On The OC Coast.

Ride down to the ocean after you ride up from the beach. Credit: Pat McCloskey
Ride down to the ocean after you ride up from the beach.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

My wife Janet was a flight attendant for US Air for many years, and she always referred to some crew members as “slam clickers.”  They go to their hotel, slam the door and click the lock and don’t go out to visit any of the local sights. Too bad, especially since there is so much to see in this country; especially when you have an opportunity to get out there on company business.  Every time I travel out West, I am taking my skis or my mountain bike and getting some enjoyment while I am there for business.  I am not a slam clicker by any stretch of the imagination, even now in my “senior” years.

And, oh, there are mountain lions. Keep your eyes open. Credit: Pat McCloskey
And, oh, there are mountain lions. Keep your eyes open.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

One of my favorite places to go is Laguna Beach, California.  Not many people realize that Laguna is a fantastic place to ride a mountain bike up in the Laguna Wilderness trails above the town.  There are several options, but the easiest access is via Crystal Cove State Park right on the Pacific Coast Highway.  Parking there is spacious and for $13—basically a donation to the upkeep of the park—you can have access to wonderful trails with extensive and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.  Be prepared for climbing right out of the gate because the coastal mountains rise sharply from sea level.  But once you are at the top, there are many options for trails that traverse the Laguna Wilderness and also downhill back to the State Park or Laguna Beach proper.  A couple of things to note: if there has been significant rain, the State Park system will shut down the trails because of the fragile ecosystem.  Once you ride there, you will see why—the sandy soil which is subject to major erosion.

If you need assistance with bike rental or accessories, trail maps, etc. there is one stop you must make The Laguna Beach Cyclery on Thalia Street. This shop is not only a high-end bike shop with every bit of eye candy you could ever imagine in road and mountain bikes, but the shop owner and personnel are knowledgeable and willing to help with all requests.  You can access the trails from their shop by climbing Thalia Street to Temple Hills Drive and on to Park Avenue to the “Top of the World” entrance to the park system.  Because the Laguna Wilderness is so extensive, there are many options for riding that are available and easily viewed on the park map available at the State Park office or at the bike shop.  One good thing for senior riders is that there are many bail out points to return to town via neighborhood roads.

Once your ride is over, do not miss the Stand Natural Food restaurant right next to the bike shop. This place is amazing with fresh guacamole, fresh vegan sandwiches and homemade breads, with huge smoothies and other natural delights.  A great way to refuel after a beautiful ride on the California coast.

Trail Access: Pacific Coast Highway entrance to Crystal Cove State Park.   Camping available via or many bed and breakfast options in Laguna Beach.

Rentals and Service: Check Laguna Beach Cyclery and ask for Christian who will set you up with whatever you need.  The Laguna Wilderness Map is a must purchase or

Apres-CycleStand Natural Food and many other boutique restaurants and bars all along the PCH running through the middle of Laguna Beach.

Here's the trail head and entrance into the Laguna Wilderness.
Here’s the trail head and entrance into the Laguna Wilderness.

Editor Note: As of July, 2016, the Laguna Wilderness is closed for fire recovery.  Check before you go.

One Comment

  1. Kathleen Klage says:

    Hi Pat,
    Thanks for submitting the interesting article. Altho I no longer live in CA, I’m glad to learn about activity options next time I visit.
    Like your wife, I was a 42 year F/A with American and never a slam-clicker! I’m also NSP for 16 years & I plan to stay active in every way possible thruout my senior years.

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