Aliso Creek and Wood Canyon Park – Top of the World

So I was down in the Orange County area this week… taking Lucy to Disneyland for her 5th birthday (which was an amazingly fun day by the way) and other random family shenanigans.  Not much time to ride, but I needed to squeeze in at least one ride to keep my sanity.   I’d been planning on hitting “Top of the World” for some time now.  Lots of friends rave about the good riding around Laguna and Aliso Viejo.  A quick look on Strava shows just how popular the area is, with countless segments created and thousands of people getting after it.  In my 20 mile ride there were well over 40 segments – pretty ridiculous actually – lots of big egos rolling around the OC 🙂

View of the Pacific Ocean from "Top of the World"

View of the Pacific Ocean from “Top of the World”

I was kinda bummed at first.  I wound up taking the 73 “toll road” and it cost me $5.75 just to get off the highway.  You can take the 5 freeway, which is “free” – now I know.  Another bummer was when I got to the parking lot and it cost another $3 just to park.  There is some street parking, but it was full because of Church going on next door.  So I spent my burrito money before starting my ride on free public trails.  At least I was about to ride my bike.  Yeah.  Nothing else really matters, does it?

Jumped out on the paved road for about 1.5 miles (there’s actually a fun singletrack etched in next to the road, so you don’t actually have to ride pavement).  From there, I hit the Wood Canyon Trail.  This area is very reminiscent of Sycamore Canyon in Ventura County.  Wood Canyon is a big fire road that runs the span of the area, with lot’s of singletrack spurs popping off everywhere.  The terrain is also very similar to that of Sycamore.  I like Sycamore a lot, and guess what – this was great too!

Buff singletrack of the Meadow Trail

Buff singletrack of the Meadow Trail

Meadows Trail is short but worth doing as a quick out and back – buff singletrack through a meadow… not much up and down, but again, worth the quick jaunt.  After getting back on Wood Canyon for a bit of super mellow climbing, it was nice to get off the big fire road and on to Coyote Run.  This trail is fun both ways, with one tough climbing tech section.  Do it.  Keep heading up Wood Canyon to Cholla.  This is a great trail to climb up to the ridge from.  It’ll have you panting for a bit, but it’s only about 1/2 mile before you hit the East Ridge fire road.   From here there are options as you turn left and start climbing.  You can jump on the Lynx Trail and start descending back to Wood Canyon (I didn’t take this route).  You can keep going a little further to Rock – It and head back down… or you can keep climbing to Top of the World.  There was a lot of people out on this beautiful Sunday, all enjoying it… and I rode to the top.  There are a few punchy climbs, but overall, it’s pretty moderate gains to the top.  Although it’s kind of a mundane mtb ride, it’s worth it just for the 360 views.  Then I turned around and went back down the way I came, but you can’t open it up too much because of all the foot traffic… be careful.  I linked up with Rock-It… which is super fun.  Great singletrack with a couple bouncy bouncy rock gardens.  My forearms got the pump with the rigid fork, but most people are on fullies and I’m sure they la de da right through the rocks…

I felt like a little more exercise before calling it a day, so I climbed and descended the Mathis Trail as an out and back as well… This is a lung-buster for sure.  A nice steep fire road climb that gets you up to East Ridge as well.

Overall, although pretty crowded for my taste, this area was lots of fun.  I’d love to go back and do Lynx, Car Wreck, etc – and all the other singletrack in the area.  I got a good taste, which definitely is never enough 🙂

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4 Responses to Aliso Creek and Wood Canyon Park – Top of the World

  1. Nathan says:

    Hit Car Wreck and Meadows! Good line, “In my 20 mile ride there were well over 40 segments – pretty ridiculous actually – lots of big egos rolling around the OC” – and spot on! My wife and I actually try to count how many non-segments we achieve when rolling through Aliso.


    • ss29er says:

      Haha! my sister-in-law just moved to that area. so i’ll be down there more often… do you have any other mtb spots you could recommend?


      • Nathan says:

        You already have a good idea of using Strava to find the trails. In terms of regional trails, hit up El Moro / Laguna Canyon trails which are across HWY 133 and Aliso (when on the Aliso ridgeline, look north and west and those are El Moro trails). A bunch of great trails are also in the Santa Ana Mtns up out of Whiting Park.


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