Overlooking one of the most stunning coastal destinations in California is one of the best viewpoints you can experience – Top of the World Laguna Beach. This one-of-a-kind scenic high rise offers a full 360 panoramic view of the city of Laguna as well as the tranquil nature-filled scenery over the Pacific Ocean. With an elevation of about 1,036 feet, this experience is one you won’t want to miss.
There are multiple access leading to this renowned oceanside view, and the options to get there are plentiful. Whether you’re a gear head wanting to bike three hours up an elevated dirt mountain or a new hiker discovering the best hikes in Laguna, Top of the World doesn’t necessarily have to be as difficult to reach as it seems.
For those that want the satisfaction of reaching the Top of the World from the bottom, you’ll want to prepare for about a two to three hour hike of about nine miles starting from the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness parking area. OC parks have classified this trail to be one of the more difficult ones, so come prepared with essential hiking gear and lots of water. The difficulty of the hike not only comes with its elevation but also with the Laguna Beach weather. Try to anticipate what the conditions will be or plan for when the sun is near setting so the experience isn’t overwhelmingly tiresome. Once you pay the US$3 parking fee, you’ll walk to the main trail and see a large brown sign welcoming you to Aliso and Wood Canyons Park which marks the official start to your journey up to the top.
If you don’t want a nine mile journey up to the top of the ridge, there are a few easier and more accessible routes in the area, like the West Ridge Trail. Starting at Canyon View Park, there is a shorter, less difficult trail that is roughly a two hour hike with a length of about five miles. This hike starts in Aliso Viejo with free street parking and is known to be one of the only dog-friendly trails around this coastal city.
Separate from that route is the easiest and more convenient way of reaching Top of the World – starting your hike from the top. Drive your car up the hillside where you’ll eventually come across Alta Laguna Park located on the north end of Alta Laguna Blvd. The parking here is free, but limited. You’ll notice photographers patiently waiting for their shot at the sunset while groups of bikers at sunrise set their gears for laps around the Top of the World Loop.
Although you can’t see the sunrise from the north end of Top of the World, if you wake up early enough and drive to the east end, you’ll find one of Laguna’s hidden gems nestled behind an elementary school. Drive east on the same street until you hit a fire station, then make a left and park in any available space. Walk out to eventually see Top of the World Elementary School, where you’ll find a trail directly behind the school. The trail leads to more undiscovered paths, but if you sit directly behind the school and face the mountains, what’s to come is by far one of the best sunrises in all of Orange County. On a day where the clouds are just right, the rays of the sunrise turn the sky into a golden salmon color and what’s left is an experience of Laguna’s natural beauty. If you want to experience feeling on the top of the world for a moment, Top of the World Laguna Beach is the place to be.
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