Crystal Cove State Park Moro Beach Trail El Moro Visitor Center hike Laguna Beach

Crystal Cove State Park has two main draws, the beach and the backcountry, so why not get a bit of both? The El Moro Visitor Center is the main trailhead for hikes into the backcountry (like Geology Discovery Trail), and it can also be the starting point of a 2-mile round trip hike to Moro Beach. This distance can easily be extended by exploring more of Moro Canyon and the surrounding ridges. More convenient beach parking along PCH allows those who don’t want to hike to reach the beach with less effort.

From the day use parking area at El Moro Visitor Center, walk down the paved road toward the coast (this will be the road you drive in). Turn left on Moro Canyon Road, a dirt trail just above the entrance to Moro Campground.

Set out southeast toward Moro Canyon, walking along the RV-friendly campground. You will get a good view northeast up the canyon before the trail turns and descends toward the coast. Look out over picnic tables and shade ramadas in the Moro Canyon Day Use Area, followed by the Pacific Ocean. After descending 100 feet in half a mile, you will come to a bridge over Moro Creek. Cross it and turn right down a dirt trail, following signs for the beach.

Walk through a cluster of trees along the creek and come to a clear area at the bottom of the canyon where the trail is lined by sunflowers. A loop offers you two equidistant routes past benches and picnic tables.

Crystal Cove State Park Moro Beach
Benches along the trail to Moro Beach
Crystal Cove State Park Moro Beach
Shaded picnic tables along the trail to Moro Beach

Pass a bathroom and turn right across another bridge over Moro Creek. You will see a tunnel below PCH leading to the beach. Turn left on the far side of the bridge, walk down through the tunnel alongside Moro Creek and come out onto Moro Beach. It is 0.4 miles from Moro Canyon Road to Moro Beach.

Crystal Cove State Park Moro Beach
The tunnel to Moro Beach

Relax on the beautiful beach or set out for a stroll across the sand. A cove to the southeast is backed by Abalone Point, whose vertical cliffs make a picturesque backdrop. The beach stretches farther in the other direction across the 3.2 miles of coastline in Crystal Cove State Park.

Crystal Cove State Park Moro Beach
Abalone Point above Moro Beach
Crystal Cove State Park Moro Beach
Looking northwest up the beach

When you are finished soaking in the ocean or soaking in the sun, simply return the way you came. A state park day use fee is charged for any vehicle parked at the El Moro Visitor Center. No permit is required to hike to Moro Beach, so get out and enjoy.

To get to the trailhead: Crystal Cove State Park has a few different entrances and parking areas along PCH. To reach the El Moro Visitor Center with parking for the backcountry trails, take PCH 1.8 miles south of Newport Canyon Road and 2.8 miles north of Laguna Canyon Road to an intersection next to El Morro School (which has a traffic light). Turn inland, driving past the school. Turn right and then left following signs for the visitor center. Moro Canyon Road begins from the lower end of the parking lot.

Trailhead address: 8471 North Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Trailhead coordinates: 33.56638, -117.821616 (33° 33′ 58.96″N 117° 49′ 17.81″W)

Trail Map
View Crystal Cove State Park in a larger map
Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding Southern California trails and campgrounds.

Photos

Crystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Beach TrailCrystal Cove State Park Moro Beach TrailCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon RoadCrystal Cove State Park Moro Canyon Road

These photos were taken in February of 2013. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Geology Discovery Trail Crystal Cove Geology Discovery Trail
This 9-mile loop in Crystal Cove State Park follows guide markers exploring geology in the beautiful backcountry of this Orange County wilderness.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Little Sycamore Canyon Loop Little Sycamore Canyon - Serrano Ridge - Camarillo Canyon - Stagecoach South Trails Loop in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
This 5-mile loop uses four trails to explore two canyons and a ridge in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
West Bluff Trail Upper Newport Bay West Bluff Trail Loop
This 2.5-mile loop combines trails above and below the West Bluff in Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve to provide a variety of views across Upper Newport Bay.
Lake Huntington Lake Huntington
This level and easy 3/4-mile loop circles a small lake in Huntington Beach Central Park.
Peters Canyon Regional Park Lake View Loop & East Ridge Overlook
This 3.65-mile loop expands on the 2.7-mile Lake View Loop with a small loop to the high point of Peters Canyon Regional Park.
Carbon Canyon Redwood Grove Redwood Grove in Carbon Canyon Regional Park
This level 2.5-mile round trip hike visits a small grove of small coastal redwoods that is the largest grove of these large trees in Southern California.
Southern California Trails More hikes in Southern California
Explore more trails in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

6 Comments on Moro Beach in Crystal Cove State Park

  1. Nylea Barraza says:

    can u go caming here with an r.v

  2. John Fauvre says:

    If I go for day use of the beach, how hard is it to get a parking space? How early should I arrive? Is the beach crowded on weekdays?

  3. pam says:

    Can I bring my dog on the beach?

  4. Robin bank says:

    Having weekended and lived for many years at El Morro Village (once the less OC-speak El Morro Trailer Park), it bugs me that the county changed the name to Moro! “El Morro” is Spanish for a rocky promontory, such as the one on the south end of the beach; Moro is Spanish for “moor” which makes fo a senseless change! Regardless, this is my favorite beach in the world…watching sunsets, surfing, swimming with passing Dolphins or climbing the rocks of the cliff face to dive into the waves…it was a fabulous place to grow up. Yes the community was desolated when the lease ran out but thanks to sympathetic supporters it wasn’t developed but became part of the state park. The only thing I would advise is to watch out for mountain lions if you hike into the hills. Camping sites fill up months ahead but this is a great day-use beach…remember not to remove anything from the tide pools if you walk north.

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *