This hike is perfect for getting ready to backpack a hundred miles. Why? The HILLS. It is a thigh burner, for sure. Take a friend with you if you go. That way the hills won’t seem so bad if you’re too busy talking about where you’re going to eat afterward.
Rex and I only hiked about three miles on this day, but the trail goes on further. Colinas Bluff Trail follows the ridge line between San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel starting on the corner of Marina Hills and Golden Lantern. This is a suburban hike, but take a few steps onto the trail and you’re surrounded by open space.
You’ll see signs like this at the beginning of all trails in Orange County, but you’re more in danger of skin cancer than any wild animal. There is no shade and no water here. This is the kind of place where you need a hat and sunscreen year round. I have never seen a mountain lion or poison oak on this trail. However, I have seen several rattlesnakes on Colinas Bluff. Late spring through summer is their season. They’re not threatening if you give them their space. I only mention it because it can be dangerous for dogs or children who may come upon them accidentally. I have been fooled a few times by what appeared to be a stick on the trail which has turned out to be a rattlesnake as I got closer. On this day, Rex and I saw only roadrunners and a horse. That’s the nice thing about hiking in November! Too chilly for snakes.
Remember this is a suburban hike. You’re never too far off from other people and red-tiled roofs. As an out-and-back trail, It’s almost impossible to get lost on Colinas Bluff. Hike about 3 miles in and you end up along the very tony neighborhood of Bear Brand Estates. The trail is a great way to get a thigh burning workout and still be close enough to civilization all around.
The important thing about getting ready for a one hundred mile backpack trip is to get out, and get walking. And the views of the ocean? Worth every step of thigh-burning madness.