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View the Pacific from Emerald Vista, Crystal Cove State Park, Orange County.

On the most transparent winter days, the view from Emerald Vista Point in Orange County's Crystal Cove State Park spans more than 200 miles of Southern California coastline. Far beyond Dana Point to the southeast, the low profile of Point Loma can be traced along the curving shoreline, and the diminutive Coronado Islands barely rise above the ocean haze. Southwest and west stand two big islands, San Clemente and Santa Catalina, the former a gently rising blister on the ocean surface, the latter a bold headland sprawling across 25 degrees of ocean horizon. Over the often murky Los Angeles Basin to the northwest, you can spot the Santa Monica Mountains reaching west into Ventura County.

Morning light is best for distant views, so plan an early start. Drive up Pacific Coast Highway past Laguna Beach and turn inland on the access road into Crystal Cove State Park. You'll arrive at a small visitors' center (fee charged for parking here). From the lot, walk 0.4 mile south on the trail going down into El Moro Canyon. Turn left, heading up-canyon, then very quickly turn right on a narrow trail going up a grassy slope to the south. After climbing about 200 feet, you connect with a service road winding up the west spur of El Moro Ridge. Continue climbing up the service road for 0.7 mile, then make a sharp right on a spur leading south to an antenna facility on the shoulder of the ridge. This is where views of Emerald Bay, the city of Laguna Beach, and the ocean horizon are most panoramic.

If you prefer a longer, more leisurely descent on the return, follow the service road farther north along El Moro Ridge, then veer left down the "East Cut-Across" road to El Moro Canyon. Turn left there and go down-canyon 1.0 mile to reach the wide trail leading out of the canyon and back toward the visitors' center. This is the route that mountain bikers should use both to and from the vista point.

Please note that heavy rains and excessive mud can close certain trails in Crystal Cove State Park, particularly to mountain bikes.

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On the most transparent winter days, the view from Emerald Vista Point in Orange County's Crystal Cove State Park spans more than 200 miles of Southern California coastline. Far beyond Dana Point to the southeast, the low profile of Point Loma can be traced along the curving shoreline, and the diminutive Coronado Islands barely rise above the ocean haze. Southwest and west stand two big islands, San Clemente and Santa Catalina, the former a gently rising blister on the ocean surface, the latter a bold headland sprawling across 25 degrees of ocean horizon. Over the often murky Los Angeles Basin to the northwest, you can spot the Santa Monica Mountains reaching west into Ventura County.

Morning light is best for distant views, so plan an early start. Drive up Pacific Coast Highway past Laguna Beach and turn inland on the access road into Crystal Cove State Park. You'll arrive at a small visitors' center (fee charged for parking here). From the lot, walk 0.4 mile south on the trail going down into El Moro Canyon. Turn left, heading up-canyon, then very quickly turn right on a narrow trail going up a grassy slope to the south. After climbing about 200 feet, you connect with a service road winding up the west spur of El Moro Ridge. Continue climbing up the service road for 0.7 mile, then make a sharp right on a spur leading south to an antenna facility on the shoulder of the ridge. This is where views of Emerald Bay, the city of Laguna Beach, and the ocean horizon are most panoramic.

If you prefer a longer, more leisurely descent on the return, follow the service road farther north along El Moro Ridge, then veer left down the "East Cut-Across" road to El Moro Canyon. Turn left there and go down-canyon 1.0 mile to reach the wide trail leading out of the canyon and back toward the visitors' center. This is the route that mountain bikers should use both to and from the vista point.

Please note that heavy rains and excessive mud can close certain trails in Crystal Cove State Park, particularly to mountain bikes.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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