California, California, California – always popular among adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. You can drop a pin on the map in California, and find a hiking trail within that area.
California is mostly known for its coastal cities and beautiful beaches, along with its soaring mountains filled with lush backcountry trails. Salt Creek Trail is one of those trails in California that cannot be missed.
SALT CREEK TRAIL OVERVIEW
Salt Creek Trail is full of different “arms” and “branches” that will suit hikers of all experience levels. The trail navigates through two communities – Laguna Niguel and Dana Point and is filled with a mix of different surfaces. It is truly a diverse trail that all user types will enjoy passing through.
The trail starts with a great view that overlooks the Pacific Ocean at Salt Creek Beach Park in Dana Point. Then, it will start climbing up canyons, pass a golf course, and dive under the Pacific Coast Highway. It will then start climbing the west side of Arroyo Salado with Salt Creek just below. At that point, you’ll enjoy wonderful views of the ocean.
Salt Creek Trail then moves inland, crossing Niguel Road. Hikers can then choose to either continue north along the road to a neighborhood on Niguel Ranch, or travel east through San Juan Canyon to the Community Park of Chapparosa, and then the endpoint that’s by a dog park on Golden Lantern Street.
The second option is quite popular because the Chapparosa Community Park features a ton of different amenities like a playground, picnic tables, a basketball and volleyball court, athletic fields, drinking fountains, and restrooms. It’s a great place to end your hike and just enjoy the area with some other activities.
There is another section of the trail, however, that starts further north on Crown Valley Parkway and traces the edge of the Sulfur Creek Reservoir and then ends in Laguna Niguel Regional Park.
Apart from hiking and walking, you can go biking, inline skating, and horseback riding on the trail.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW About SALT CREEK TRAIL
Salt Creek Trail is a great mid-week, easy hike, but there are a few things that will be useful for you to know before you head down there.
The trail is about 5 – 6.8 miles; depending on which routes you take. But generally, it takes about 2 to 2.5 hours to complete. It is tagged as an easy to moderate hike with an elevation gain of 500 feet. It is usable by dogs and is open year round.
All of the paths are paved, so it’s a pretty easy hike that you can do, even if it starts to rain. There are gently rolling inclines so it isn’t a strenuous or continuous uphill climb.
The parking lot for Salt Creek Trail is at the Chapparosa Community Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, and Salt Creek Beach Park. The addresses are as follows:
- Chapparosa Community Park: 25191 Chapparosa Park Road
- Laguna Niguel Regional Park: 28241 La Paz Road, Laguna Niguel
- Salt Creek Beach Park: 33333 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point
Just know that Laguna Niguel and Salt Creek Beach charge a parking fee. Usually, there are a lot of parking spots available, but try to avoid parking near the baseball field or else you may come back with a dent in your car from a stray fly ball! So be careful where you park!
The trail can get hotter than the beach, but compared to other inland trails, it’s still pretty cool. And since the trail can end at Salt Creek Beach, you can take a dip in the cool water after a long hike.
This is also a great family hike, so if you’re bringing your kids, take along their toys with them so they can enjoy at the beach after their hike. Generally, the place isn’t too crowded or busy, so it’s pretty great if you want a bit of quiet.
Other Things To Note
Remember that it is kind of a long walk, so it may be difficult for young kids to complete the entire trail. Even though it’s quite easy, without too much uphill climbing or crazy, rocky terrain, it’s still pretty long. If your kids aren’t used to long walks yet, go for shorter trails instead.
If you have a dog, instead of a kid (which, may kind of be the same thing for some of you, your pup will be allowed on the trail, but not on the beach.
When you pass the golf course, you may end up competing with golf carts for the road. Keep your eyes open, and keep right – also because road bikers and runners use the trail as well.
Some spots can be isolated, so try not to go hiking on your own. Not just for this trail, but for every trail, have a hiking buddy with you at all times.
Finally, there are restrooms at the trail heads, the parks, and at the Salt Creek Beach. However, there are none along the trail, so just be wary.
WHAT TO BRING
Salt Creek Trail is an easy hike, but a kind of long one – almost two hours. So there are some things you should bring with you for a comfortable hike.
So, now that you have a brief overview about Salt Creek Trail, as well as the things you need to know and things you need to bring, go out and make adventures of your own and experience it for yourself.
Let me know what you think about the trail. Did you enjoy it? Or was it too easy for you? If you’re looking for more hikes around the Southern California area, you can check my website. I have a lot of different trails, mountains, parks, and campgrounds you can visit – not just in California, but all over the U.S.
As usual, have fun and stay safe!