Orange County Coastwalk

Explore the Orange County Coast!

Orange County

Orange County

Orange County

Orange County

Orange County

October 14-18, 2020

5 days/4 nights

Rating: Moderate to Easy

Max Capacity: 20

$650 Non-Member Price

$625 Coastwalk Member Price

Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore. Camp all 4 nights at Moro Canyon Campground nestled within coastal sage scrub foothills with spectacular ocean views. Enjoy kayaking, birdwatching, evening programs and all your delicious meals provided by Coastwalk. The 42-mile Orange County coast, though dotted with towns and cities, has an abundance of wilderness in its canyons, coves and beaches.  Coastwalk guides will introduce you to special coastal places many travelers overlook. Learn how the Coastal Trail and grassroots efforts helped preserve a greenbelt along this urban coastline.

Walk rating: Moderate to Easy-First day is short 4-5 mile hike with some elevation at Crystal Cove all other hikes between 7-10 miles each day that are level beach routes with some boardwalks and urban trail.



The 42-mile Orange County coast, though dotted with towns and cities, has an abundance of wilderness in its canyons, coves and beaches.  Coastwalk guides will introduce you to special coastal places that so many travelers overlook. Enjoy walking barefoot along the surf in azure waters with opportunities to swim & beachcomb -taking only photos of what we discover and removing only marine debris. Learn how the Coastal Trail and grassroots efforts have helped preserve a greenbelt along this urban coastline.  Visit the wetlands of Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve; explore tidepools along the Crown of the Sea Trail at a minus tide from Corona Del Mar to Crystal Cove; visit the Muth Interpretive & Dana Point Nature Centers, kayak upper Newport Bay, take a ferry and have lunch on Balboa Island and hike the Back-Bay Loop Trail.  Walk from Salt Creek Beach to historic Dana Point Headlands and Harbor then continue south to San Clemente.  Camp all 4 nights at Crystal Cove State Park, one of Orange County’s largest examples of open space and natural seashore and explore its trails, historic cottages, and sandy beaches while enjoying campfire programs and all your delicious meals provided by Coastwalk.

Food: Coffee (and decaf), juice, and milk will be available each morning, as well as a variety of breakfast and lunch foods. Soft drinks will be available each day to refresh you contingent on donations to the food kitty.

Dinners are provided each evening.

You will only need to carry lunch items, water and layers while hiking.

Day 1: Wednesday October 14:

(Moderate – foothills)

5 miles

Check into Crystal Cove campsite and put on your water shoes because the ocean is just a short walk from camp. In the afternoon we’ll hike the foothills of Moro Canyon with a docent from the Crystal Cove Conservancy. The end of this short trek offers panoramic vistas of the coastline. Remember to bring your camera! Our evening will be about enjoying a delicious meal around the campfire and listening to the Executive Director of the Crystal Cove Conservancy discuss the history and ongoing efforts to preserve the park.

 Day 2: Thursday October 15:

(Easy – sand and pavement)

8.5 miles

Begin the day in Newport Beach home to Orange County’s oldest pier. We have the option of walking on the sand or the boardwalk as we make our way to Balboa Pier and Fun Zone. We’ll take the ferry over to charming Balboa Island where we can stop for coffee or a frozen chocolate covered banana from “The Original Frozen Banana Stand”, as featured in Arrested Development. After lunch we continue along the Back Bay Trail to the Muth Interpretive Center where we’ll learn about the importance of wetlands and why this precious resource is home to 35,000 migratory birds and 200 endangered species.

  Day 3 Friday October 16:

(Moderate – foothills, sand, rocky intertidal)

8.3 miles

Today we’re in for a treat. We start the day with a docent led kayak adventure of upper Newport Bay and learn about the grassroots efforts to preserve the area from development.  We then shuttle to Corona Del Mar where we picnic on the beach and then hike one of Orange County’s most elusive trails. Along the way we’ll see where the intro opening to “Gilligan’s Island” was filmed, visit the Historic Crystal Cove Cottages where the movie “Beaches” was filmed, and walk back to camp along the The Crown of the Sea Trail which can only be accessed on a negative tide. So put on some secure hiking shoes and let’s go! We will be exploring a Marine Protected Area so we’ll be sure to follow “Good Tidepooler Rules”.

  Day 4: Saturday October 17:

Salt Creek Beach to San Clemente with Dana Point Headlands stops

(Moderate-sand and pavement)

9 miles

Begin the day with an easy beach walk along Salt Creek Beach. Then climb to the top of the coastal bluffs to Dana Point Headlands. Here we’ll take a tour of the conservation area and learn about a tiny pocket mouse that saved this scenic overlook from development. The panoramic view from a top the headlands offers opportunities to spot whales and pods of dolphins. On our way down to Dana Point Harbor we’ll walk past the Pilgrim, a full-sized replica of the merchantman brig made famous by Richard Henry Dana in his novel “Two Years Before the Mast”. We stop for lunch in Dana Point Harbor with plenty of choices for restaurants, then continue on to Doheny State Beach, Capistrano Beach and ending the day in San Clemente. A seaside community built in the 1920’s as a “Spanish Village by the Sea”.

Day 5: Sunday October 18: 

Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve Inner Bay Loop


3-4 miles 

On our final day, we break camp and travel north to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.  80% of California’s wetlands have been lost to aggressive, continual development, so walking the trails of the 1300 acres of restored marine estuary is a rare opportunity.  Bolsa Chica offers some of the best birding in America, so bring binoculars. Our walk begins in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Interpretive Center where, in addition to being introduced to the wide variety of shore birds and waterfowl we might encounter,  we will also learn how 30 years of concerted activist effort have succeeded in saving this significant bit of what was once a vast marine estuary. For those wishing to stay with us for lunch before saying goodbye-we will travel a few miles south of Moro campground to picnic in beautiful Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. With its groomed paths and stunning landscaping, this half mile walk along the cliffs overlooking numerous pocket beaches, tide pools, and secret coves (all accessible, if time permits), will prove an elegant way to end our stay in the OC.

  • Hiking shoes, boots or sturdy walking shoes
  • Waterproof sandals
  • Spare walking shoes & laces
  • Comfy camp shoes
  • Hiking poles
  • Water-proof windbreaker/ or parka for cold nights
  • Long pants and long sleeve shirt (protection against sunburn, poison oak, and bugs)
  • Layers for upper body
  • Hat for sun protection that ties under chin
  • Beanie for cold, windy conditions
  • Other clothing – underwear, T-shirts, lots of socks, etc.
  • Bandana
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Sunscreen (minimum 30 spf)
  • Natural bug repellant
  • Personal first aid kit (band aids, blister pads)
  • Personal medicines
  • Day pack
  • Plate, cup, bowl, and eating utensils
  • Sturdy Tupperware for leftovers
  • Flashlight & headlamp with new batteries
  • Spare batteries
  • Folding camp chair
  • Tent & Ground Cloth
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • REUSABLE Water Bottle
  • Trail snacks (power bars or jerky)
  • Credit Card & cash for camp showers and treats
  • Solar shower if there is no shower at campsite
  • Shower towel

What’s Included:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided.


  • Coffee: (Regular in percolator with caffeine free available upon request), Teas, Cocoa, Juice, Milk (1/2 & 1/2, 2% Milk, Soy & Almond Milks)
  • Sweeteners- (sugar, honey)
  • Yogurt
  • Biscotti
  • Hot Cereals (Instant Oatmeal, and prepare it yourself steel cut oats available)
  • Granola
  • Walnuts or assorted nuts
  • Fruit (fresh)- (Blueberries, Bananas, Apples, Oranges / Cuties)
  • Fruit (dried)- Raisins & Craisins


  • Breads- (Multi Grail & Gluten Free)
  • Almond Butter
  • Fruit spreads
  • Cold Cuts
  • Cheeses (sliced)
  • Condiments, (Mustard, Mayonnaise)
  • Butter, (Regular and dairy free)


  • Dinners are included unless otherwise noted and will be provided by Coastwalk’s Volunteer Food Angels. 

Our Chuckwagon Wrangler will do their best to accommodate you but if you have special dietary needs please bring your food in a small cooler and we will be sure to provide you with ice throughout the trip.

Cea Higgins

The Executive Director of Coastwalk, Cea has focused her career on education and coastal advocacy. She taught at the elementary, middle, high-school, & junior college levels. She was the Policy & Volunteer Coordinator for Sonoma Coast Surfrider Foundation for 2 decades. To improve her ability to advocate for coastal preservation, she earned a Juris Doctorate with honors in 2016 focusing on ocean policy. Cea was selected by NOAA to serve on the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council as the Sonoma/Mendocino Coast Community-at-Large Primary representative.  She is a founding member of the Bodega Bay Collaborative, which sponsors town halls, community forums, and provides a voice to unincorporated coastal areas. Cea also helped establish the Sonoma County Marine Protected Areas Collaborative, where she works with scientific institutions, environmental NGOs, and tribal governments to raise awareness of the value of marine protected areas amongst coastal residents and visitors.  An avid surfer, hiker, and trained in marine mammal and sea bird rescue, Cea believes in giving back to the ocean that she cherishes and sharing its wonders so that others will work to advocate for its stewardship. 

Linda Georgiana

A retired professor of Medieval literature at UC Irvine, Linda has taken up hiking as her favorite retirement activity. She has hiked near her home in Orange County, in the San Bernardino Mountains where she has a tiny cabin, and abroad in New Zealand, Italy, and England.