Thousands of acres of undeveloped land paired with miles of gorgeous shoreline provide some of the most awe-inspiring views in California. These easy-to-access parks and beaches allow visitors to escape from the city life for a moment and regain some perspective. Whether it’s a walk on the beach, a hike up the mountain or gazing down miles of pristine Pacific coastline, these magnificent views will lift the spirit and reconnect you with the natural side of Orange County. If a new perspective is what you’re after, the inspirational views from these parks aresure to provide what you need.
Aliso-Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
28373 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
The Aliso-Wood Canyons Wilderness Park offers many miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, several of which lead to some amazing vantage points from which to view the gorgeous natural beauty of Orange County. Visitors can take the West Ridge Trail up to the Top of the World viewpoint. Situated at over a 1,000-foot elevation, the Top of the World yields breathtaking views of Laguna Canyon and the Pacific Ocean. For hikers unable to make it to the Top of the World, there are several additional lookout locations along the loop, including the Top of the Meadows and the Aliso Summit Trail. A wide range of difficulty levels offers a challenge for any kind of hiker at Aliso-Wood, so bring the kids along for an easy hike and a new and beautiful perspective of their home in Orange County.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
18751 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Head south on the 133 Freeway off the 405 and you’ll travel through the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park – one of the most beautifully natural landscapes in Orange County. Forty miles of hiking and biking trails offer visitors ample opportunity to connect with nature, and a climb up the Little Sycamore Canyon Trail provides the best view by far. With a couple of steep sections, the Little Sycamore Canyon Trail is a moderate challenge, but the spectacular view of the coastal sage scrub habitat and the expansive Pacific Ocean is worth the effort. After resting at the top of the ridge, hikers have their choice of heading right back down to the Nix Nature Center or continuing their hike along the Serrano Ridge Trail, which runs adjacent to the Irvine Open Space Preserve.
Caspers Wilderness Park
33401 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Located just off the Ortega Highway in Trabuco Canyon, Caspers Wilderness Park provides some of the most breathtaking scenery in Orange County. Hiking among the coastal live oaks, California sycamores and blooming wildflowers is beautiful by itself, especially if you’re able to catch sight of some of the local birds and mule deer. An easy hike on the East Ridge Trail offers a great vantage point overlooking Trabuco Canyon, and a more difficult trek up the Oso Trail takes you to a 1,450-foot viewpoint yielding a stunning panoramic vista of the neighboring Cleveland National Forest.
Related: Extreme Sports In Orange County
Crystal Cove State Park
8471 N. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
With almost two and a half thousand acres of natural woodlands that run right down to the ocean, Crystal Cove State Park provides both stunning seascapes and vast landscapes for viewing pleasure. Visitors here can take a walk along the miles of undeveloped shoreline or head slightly south to Emerald Bay or Crescent Bay Point Park for fabulous views of gorgeous California shores. Inland, guests can survey miles of pristine open space and catch a glimpse of Orange County’s natural beauty. Accessible from Pacific Coast Highway, the drive itself to Crystal Cove offers a glimmering view of the vast Pacific Ocean, adding yet another visually stimulating reason to visit this amazing natural locale.
Santiago Oaks Regional Park
2145 N. Windes Drive
Orange, CA 92869
Santiago Oaks is the ideal location for hikers and bikers looking for a bird’s eye view of the City of Orange and the adjacent foothills. A moderate hike on the Sage Ridge Trail or a more challenging hike on the Pacifica Trail offer rewarding panoramic vistas of north Orange County, perfect for a photo opportunity. Santiago Oaks is a natural oasis quietly nestled away in a small pocket of untouched landscape right next to urbanized Orange County. Easily accessible, this park transports visitors away from the hustle and bustle, and offers a broader perspective.
Related: Best Places For Stargazing Near OC
David McDonald is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.