Recently I have discovered the joys of hiking and pushing myself to my limit. I have done an occasional 5-mile hike here and there, but would love to start finding bigger and better trails. As far as experience goes, I would categorize myself as a "newbie." This past weekend I hit the trails at Crystal Cove State Park. While I am in somewhat good shape, I walked away feeling almost defeated; but hobbled off with a few notes for my next excursion.
I started by mapping out the trails that I wanted to take, making it a little shy of a 9-mile trip. I had my map, put on some sunscreen, filled my CamelBak and hit the road. I had a little trouble finding the right parking lot, but the attendants were helpful with directions. For these trails, you will want to park at the Moro Campground lots. An all-day parking pass is needed which costs $15. There is plenty of parking available, with the lower lots being closest to the El Moro Canyon Trail head. Bathrooms are also available and recommended before you begin your journey.
One regret that I immediately had at mile #3 was not eating a large enough breakfast. A left-over Wahoos taco from the night before was not going to cut it. Regret number 2, not packing any snacks. I also didn't expect it to be so warm at 9am, leaving at 7am would have been a better decision. I was, however, determined to finish the route that I had mapped out.
The views from these trails are absolutely beautiful! As soon as you're feeling a little defeated, you reach the top of another hill and get lifted by the beauty of nature surrounding you. To my surprise, I had cell reception almost the entire time, so I was able to stream music throughout my hike.
I was expecting to see a lot of wildlife, however only saw the occasional bird; the heat may have had something to do with this. What I did have to keep an eye out for though, were mountain bikers; the trails were full of them! Most usually gave a little call alerting you that they were approaching so that you could let them pass, as some of the trails are a bit narrow.
These trails do not offer very much shade; I would recommend wearing a hat to help keep you cool. There are two campgrounds with picnic tables that make a nice place to take a break and rest if you need it.
As I neared the end of the hike, my daunting hunger was taking over and my feet were getting slower and weaker. Picking out a local restaurant for lunch was all that I could seem to think of to pull me through. At last when I made it to the home stretch, I was filled with overwhelming joy as if I had been stranded on a deserted island and finally made it to civilization. This hike took me a little over 4 hours to complete. I may have bitten off more than I could chew with the trails that I had chosen and my lack of preparation, but it was a challenge that I cannot wait to accept again.