Today I decided to head out to one of my usual haunts and capture it on film. Alta Laguna Park is located at the north-western end of Alta Laguna Boulevard. From the park you can hike/run/mountain bike 35 miles of trails, officially located in "Aliso and Wood Canyons", which separate Laguna Beach from the cities of Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel.
The view from the trails is phenomenal. On one side you have ocean, on the other deep valleys. The trails are trying, to say the least. Starting at an approximate elevation of 800 feet, the trails drop to somewhere around 200 feet above sea level at the canyon floor. Smaller trails spin off the main trail head, and it is on one of these trails my husband recently ran a non-stop 15 miles. The main trail head is approximately five miles long, and puts the Stairmaster to shame. At points, the trail is so steep your heel won't touch the ground, and you find yourself running forefoot.
Except for Alta Laguna Park, there are no water fountains to be located on the trails. This means that to avoid wilting you should pack your own water. You can buy water at the store at the official park entrance, or stock your own with one of these handy strap on bottles, perfect for the distance runner.
A word of advice: I would not linger much on the trails after sunset, as rattlesnakes come out at night. The trails officially close with the setting sun, and open at 7 am for the early birds.
Trail running is an excellent preparation for race day. Trails, such as those in Aliso and Wood Canyons, have raised both my stamina and produced an excellent full body workout. Incorporating consistent trail runs into my training (approximately 6-8 mile runs) has lengthened the amount of miles I can run on much flatter terrain.
The top picture is an ocean view from one of the trails. Note Laguna Village at the base of the hills.
The second picture looks north from the trail to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Note Laguna Canyon Road/Highway 133 in the valley.
This last picture is of Alta Laguna Park from a viewing point off the main trailhead. The park features tennis courts, a playground, a baseball field, and plenty of picnic tables and benches. A women's and men's restroom is also located at the park, as well as a water fountain and a water bowl for the pooches.