COASTAL VIEWS & CANYONS AT CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK

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SUMMARY

TRIP · 3-day backpacking trip
FOR · Friends & first-time backpackers
DISTANCE · 5 miles round-trip

VIBE · Moderate & fun

COST · $$
DRIVE · 1 hour from LA

RESERVATION · Yes! Book a site at Lower Moro Campground
IDEAL DATES · September - December or March - May 
PETS · Not allowed on backcountry trails

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WHY CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK?

Crystal Cove SP is one of the largest open spaces & natural seashores in SoCal's Orange County. Treat yo' self to 3.2 miles of sandy beach, 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness, and awesome campsites along the Pacific Ocean. Scuba divers frequently explore Crystal Cove's underwater park, and trail runners and mountain bikers love to whiz through its steep hills & canyon floors. Take a break from Twitter, and swap your screen for a weekend of sun, stars & surf at Crystal Cove.  

· Directions to Park

· Official State Park Website

· Official Crystal Cove SP Trail Map

Thousands of years ago, the Tongva and Acjachemen tribes lived in this area. They manufactured soapstone bowls and knives, along with weaving exquisite baskets and nets

STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW

There are three backcountry campgrounds: Lower Moro, Upper Moro & Deer Canyon you can reserve for $25 a night. Each campsite comes with a picnic table!

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Bring all of your water because there isn't any drinking or running water in the backcountry 

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Campfires aren't allowed either, but backpacking stoves are!

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There is a porta potty at each campground, but no trash cans. Practice Leave No Trace!

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Pack up your food overnight because while there aren't bears, there are rattlesnakes & other creepy crawlies that like to snack.

 

ITINERARY

DAY ONE
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LEAVE LA BY 10 AM & SWING BY CRYSTAL COVE SHAKE SHACK FOR LUNCH

- This local institution is known for its stellar ocean views. Try to get there early because there'll likely be a line!

- Located at 7703 E Coast Highway along Newport Coast

- Open everyday from 7 AM - 9 PM

- GROCERY STOP · Trader Joe's - 8086 Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach · Less than a mile away from Crystal Cove SP

CHECK-IN AT CRYSTAL COVE SP'S MORO CAMPGROUND 

- Park rangers will direct you to a parking lot for overnight backpackers & the trailhead

HIKE TO LOWER MORO CAMPGROUND & SET UP CAMP

- It's a 2.5 mile one-way hike, with 846 feet of elevation gain, to reach the campground

- Remember to pack enough drinking water for at least two days (recc: a gallon per person per day)

- The trail doesn't have a lot of shade so bring your sun gear!

COOK UP DINNER & SETTLE IN
- YAY! Soak up the stars, clouds & ocean breeze 

- Enjoy your first sunset at Crystal Cove State Park


CAR TO CAMP · 2.5 miles with 846 feet of elevation gain, about 2 hours

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DAY TWO
MAKE BREKKIE, PACK A LUNCH & DAY HIKE DOWN TO THE BEACH

- Bring your water bottles (to refill your water), snacks, sunglasses, towel, bug spray, down jacket, picnic blanket, a book & lunch!

- Securely store any food & scented items at camp, but away from your tent

- On the way down, instead of taking Moro Ridge Spur, take a slight detour down Moro Ridge Road to catch a view of the ocean.

- Hike down about 2 miles to the trailhead where you can find the tunnel to the beach

 

WALK ALONG REEF POINT & CRYSTAL COVE TRAIL 

- It's an easy 6 mile round-trip loop, with 335 feet of elevation gain, that takes you through Crystal Cove. The trail runs parallel to the PCH so expect roadside restaurants and activity at certain points, but it's a nice stroll. 

- Make this hike as long or as short as you'd like. You still have to carry water back up to camp!

- Have lunch at a scenic vista along the way

HIKE BACK TO CAMP

- It's about a 2 mile climb back to Lower Moro Campground

CLEAN UP & COOK UP DINNER

- Savor your last night at Crystal Cove!

CAMP TO CAMP · 10 miles, 735 feet of elevation gain, 6-7 hours 

DAY THREE
COOK UP BREAKFAST, PACK UP & HIKE BACK DOWN TO THE TRAILHEAD

RETURN TO YOUR CAR & HEAD HOME
 
CAMP TO CAR · 2 miles, 1 - 2 hours 
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GEAR

ESSENTIALS
CLOTHING
ACCESSORIES
 
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LAST UPDATED: December 14, 2021

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DAY ONE

Dinner

DOTTIE'S CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS

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Dessert

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

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FOOD

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