Running at Crystal Cove State Park

Running at Crystal Cove State Park

I ran at Crystal Cove State Park because I was tired of the wind and cold in the desert. It’s tested me lately, and I can’t acclimate fast enough for whatever reason. So taking a field trip to Crystal Cove State Park and a chance to run in a warmer temperature and new environment seemed like a great idea, and it was.

I ended up racing the Crystal Cove 15k and look forward to returning.

Running at Crystal Cove State Park

About Crystal Cove State Park:

Located in Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park has 3.2 miles of beach and 2400 acres of backcountry. It is used for running, hiking, mountain biking, scuba diving, and swimming. Crystal Cove State Park Crystal is one of Orange County’s most prominent examples of a natural seashore and open space.

Being on the shore near Los Angeles, Crystal Cove has a climate of foggy summer mornings, with it burning off by around 10 am. The middle of the day brings the sun!

The Crystal Cove Historic District is a unique area of the park. It is a 12.3-acre portion and federally listed Historic District with 45 coastal cottages built in the 1930s. You can even rent one overnight! You can learn more here.

Running at Crystal Cove State Park

What can you do at Crystal Cove State Park? 

  • Hiking, running, trail running.
  • Mountain biking
  • Scuba Diving, Surfing, and Swimming
  • Camping
  • Horseback Riding

Crystal Cove State Park Address: 8471 North Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, California 92651

My Experience at Crystal Cove State Park:

Gear Used:

Mileage: 9.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1600 feet

Running at Crystal Cove State Park

I arrived around 7:30 am on a Saturday. The Crystal Cove State Park does cost $15 per car for a day pass. One of the more pricy parks we’ve been to lately, but it’s well-maintained with plenty of amenities. There is a military discount, but we forgot to ask and aren’t too concerned about it.

When we arrived, many of the lots were already full, but thankfully we got a nice spot near the trails. You can tell it gets busy….fast. When we left around 10 am, people were already looking for parking spaces. So it’s a busy spot. There are bathrooms at the trailhead (not porta potties, but full bathrooms) and even a water bottle filling station. The trails are dog friendly, but you must keep your dog leashed.

There are 18 miles of hiking trails, from easy to strenuous. Some of the climbs at Crystal Cove are not easy. We scaled a wall with 300 feet of gain in 1/3 mile. I honestly didn’t know if I would make it. LOL-spoiler, I did. You can see a complete map of the Crystal Cove hiking trails here.

Running at Crystal Cove State Park

Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with a single track and 360 views of Laguna Beach and the ocean. It’s gorgeous! Getting down is kind of scary, though. Some are steep downhill, some on pavement, and some on gravel. I just let gravity take me down, but I’ll be honest, I was terrified I might trip and fall. I think not hurting myself on the downhill was the most challenging part.

In general, most of the Crystal Cove trails are runnable. I averaged just under 11-minute miles. They aren’t technical, but you will want some good shoes, hydration, and snacks. There isn’t a lot of shade, so it does get warm quickly.

Running at Crystal Cove State Park was fun, and I look forward to returning. There are plenty of trails, whether for something steep and challenging or leisurely and relaxing.

Running at Crystal Cove State Park

You can see more hikes and trail runs here.

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Questions for you:

Have you been to Crystal Cove State Park or Laguna Beach?

What is your favorite state park?