How does this work?
Crystal Cove State Park, California, United States

Crystal Cove Green Route

A moderate 3 mile loop trail that begins and ends at the El Moro Visitor Center

provided by
Viewed 45157 times
    This guide contains photos
 (1 vote, 1 review)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.9 miles / 4.7 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Overview: The Green Route is a moderate, 2.9 mile loop hike through Crystal Cove State Park backcountry. The hike begins and ends at the El Moro Visitor Center. The length is perfect for a short hike, and the route gives you a good workout and a great taste of Crystal Cove's backcountry.

The trail begins with a steady ascent, climbing about 500 feet in elevation. Once you begin your descent down Poles, it's almost all downhill from there, with one smaller hill to climb at the end.

Tips: These are multi-use trails shared with mountain bikers and horses. Keep alert and follow the clearly posted rules of the road.

In warm months, it is not uncommon to run across a rattlesnake on the trail. Give them wide berth.

It is also possible to see deer, bobcats, coyotes, rabbits and many other kinds of wildlife. The best time to catch a glimpse of wildlife is early in the morning before the trails get too busy.

Bring plenty of water. There is no water available along this trail (other than at the visitor center).

Most of the trail is unprotected, so a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen is also advised.

Points of Interest


Park at the El Moro Visitor Center

Stop in at the Visitor Center to pick up a day use parking pass ($15) and see exhibits, maps and information about the wildlife and plants native to Crystal Cove State Park.

Gate to

Pass around this gate and follow the wide gravel fire road. This trail is affectionately referred to as "No Dogs." It's an odd name, especially since dogs aren't allowed on any of the trails in the Crystal Cove backcountry.

No Dogs Trail

The trail climbs steadily up the ridge, warming you up quickly.

Valley View

As you climb up the ridge, the views of the valley and out to the ocean grow more beautiful. You get a great perspective on the size and scope of the park.

Bear right at this fork

To the left the trail continues up No Name Ridge, but bear right to head toward "Poles."

False Junction

You'll see what looks like a trail following the power poles. Skip this first downhill right. It's a dead end.

Poles Trail

The second right leads down a wide, steep trail roughly parallel with a series of power poles that give the trail its name.

When it's dry -- which is most of the time -- the loose dirt and gravel can make this steep pitch treacherous. Take your time and control your descent. Trekking poles would be really useful here.

Turn right onto Lower Moro Canyon

There are several trails that come together at this junction. Bear right and begin your descent through Lower Moro Canyon.

Notice how the vegetation has changed from the No Dogs trail, with dense brush and a tree-lined seasonal creek.

Continue straight

The trail to your left cuts up toward Moro Ridge. Ignore that spur and contine straight down Lower Moro Canyon.

Bridge crossing

Cross this bridge and wind your way to the right around the perimeter of the new parking area and campground (to open in 2011). You'll climb up and over a small hill and back to the El Moro parking lot.

El Moro Visitor Center

The loop begins and ends here at the visitor center.


Pictures in this guide taken by: jeffhester
This is a great guide, Jeff. I just tweeted it on my trailsnet Twitter account.
Thanks for sharing your expertise and wonderful photography.

by trailsnet on Dec 21, 2010

Crystal Cove Green Route Trail Map

POIs: numbers | icons View large Trail Map

Have an iPhone or Android?

  • Map your route while you move
  • Add trip photos to your map instantly
  • Share trips right from your phone
  • Find and follow trips from other travelers

Available For:
iPhone | Android

About the Author

20 guides
view jeffhester's profile
I live in Southern California, where most people are completely unaware of the hundreds of great hiking...

Crystal Cove Green Route 3 Day Forecast

Extended Forecast
How To Get There
Get directions from: