Crystal Cove State Park

map and man on dry land

Hey all.  Now that the stay at home order has been lifted here in California I’ve been anxious to get back out into the backcountry.  And while this is my first post since the restriction was recalled, it was actually our second time camping.

We went back to our spot in Anza Borrego a couple weeks ago (partly because we had stashed some unused firewood there for us) but when we arrived we were greeted by some very aggressive winds.  I looked up the forecast when we returned the following day and it showed highs of up to 35 mph! There were several times throughout the night when I awoke to our tent going crazy, but our Half Dome 2+ stood tall and kept us safe.

Anyways…we wanted to switch things up this weekend and decided to head north up to LA. Laguna Beach to be specific.  We’ve been feeling really comfortable with our gear lately and felt like we were up for a new challenge, and so we booked a campsite at Deer Canyon campground inside Crystal Cove State Park, which is a ~3 mile hike with about a thousand feet in elevation.

map and other location information

The trail head starts at the parking lot, but before embarking on our journey we wanted to spend a little time relaxing on the beach, knowing the challenge that awaited us.  There’s a cool walking tunnel that takes you under the highway and places you a mere feet away from the Pacific Ocean

man inside a tunnel

One thing I found to be very fun with the hiking at Crystal Cove State Park is that there a number of different routes, so depending on where you’re heading or how big (or little) of a challenge you’re looking for, you can piece together your own route.

Deer Canyon is the furthest of the three campgrounds, and the maps I saw in my research prior to booking had labelled the trail as ‘Strenuous’, the hardest of all the hikes within the park. Honestly, at the time I didn’t think much of it – “it’s just walking” and “I’m in good shape” were some of the things I was telling myself.

Well, it was definitely strenuous and I have a lot more appreciation for how elevation can impact how difficult an excursion can be!

But thanks to the elevation we were able to take in some incredible views

nature under the blue sky at daytime
hands holding a phone

It took us about two hours to hike the three miles, which brought us through varying types of terrain

man walking on a nature trail
map and man on dry land

With all the hiking in store for us, I knew we’d get tired and would want a comfortable way to relax, so I made sure to bring my hammock and also an inflatable couch thing that my sister had gotten me for Christmas (was it worth the extra weight? Debatable….but we had fun and that’s really all that matters)

man holding a huge black bag
man sitting on a hammock tied to the trees

We ended up bringing a tad over four liters of water with us, which was *just* enough.  Overall it was a great experience, and while we probably won’t be in any rush to get back here (although we do want to check out the Lower Moro campground which has ocean views) it was a great, challenging experience that I’m happy we accomplished.

legs on top of man lying down
couple posing by campground sign
man near trail under the blue sky
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