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Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park extends along both sides of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) for 3 miles and encompasses 2,800 acres. There are four park entrances; a fifth entrance, Los Trancos, serves only as a parking lot for the historic district. On the ocean side is the historic district, an enclave of 46 vintage coastal cottages built as...
Crystal Cove State Park extends along both sides of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) for 3 miles and encompasses 2,800 acres. There are four park entrances; a fifth entrance, Los Trancos, serves only as a parking lot for the historic district.

On the ocean side is the historic district, an enclave of 46 vintage coastal cottages built as a seaside colony in the 1930s and '40s. You will also find a 3-mile blufftop trail that travels between Pelican Point to the north and Reef Point to the south, a beachside restaurant, picnic tables on the beach (the sand was hard enough for me to cross in my power chair), easy beach access, and a small information center. Eighteen of the cottages have been restored and are available to rent; several are accessible. These are managed by the Crystal Cove Alliance and advance reservations (difficult to get) are essential. To reserve the accessible cabins you must have a DMV-issued disabled plate or placard. At Reef Point you can picnic and access the Bluff Trail; the trails down to the beach are very steep. Pelican Point has the best hiking for wheelchair riders.

East of the highway, at El Moro day-use area, you’ll find picnic tables, restrooms, and the Michael and Tricia Berns Environmental Study Loop, an outdoor learning center for the science of park management and conservation. It consists of an amphitheater and a half-mile accessible loop trail with eight educational science field stations. To access Moro Beach, follow the path from the lower lot through a tunnel under the PCH. Multiple trails traverse El Moro canyon's 2,400 acres of rough, steep terrain; none are accessible.

Visitor center: The small visitor center at El Moro has tabletop exhibits of native flora and fauna. The small information center in the historic district has old photos of the cottages and some vintage appliances on display.

Trail/Pathway Details

Blufftop Multiuse Trail

Trailhead: You can enter the trail from all lots serving Pelican Point and Reef Point, and behind the registration cottage at the historic district.

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

Terrain: Hard

At the historic district, a few hundred yards of the trail that connects to the main trail are bumpy.

Description

This 3-mile-long blufftop trail travels through coastal scrub 80 feet above the ocean, providing spectacular views and several opportunities to get close to the bluff's edge—almost at eye level with the soaring pelicans that appeared to follow me on my walk. There is no shade along the trail, so bring a hat and sunscreen. I picked up the...
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Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

At Moro Beach day-use area, ask at the entry kiosk for the combination to unlock the beach chair, which is stored next to the beach pathway. At the historic district, several are stored across from the Beachcomber restaurant and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All park lots have accessible spaces. Parking at the historic district is limited to those with disabled placards, and these spaces fill quickly. Alternatively, you must park in the Los Trancos lot across the highway and take an accessible shuttle, or follow the quarter-mile trail that travels under the road; it is very steep in places, but I managed without difficulty in my motorized wheelchair. By the accessible parking lot and behind cottage #1. Pelican Cove: Across from all parking lots. El Moro: At the day-use lot and outside the visitor center.
Across from all parking lots at the Pelican Point entrance; at the beach and behind the guest registration cottage in the historic district; and at Moro Beach day-use area.
View south from Reef Point
View south from Reef Point (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

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Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • bicycling
  • camping
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.parks.ca.gov/
Managing Agency: CA State Parks
Address: 8471 N. Coast Hwy.
Nearest City: Newport Beach
Phone: (949) 494-3539; cottage reservations: (800) 444-7275
Hours: Day use: 6 am-sunset. Historic district closes at 10 pm. El Moro visitor center is generally open daily, 9 am-5 pm.
Fees: Parking
Dogs: In restricted areas
Dogs on leashes no more than six feet long are allowed on paved areas and in parking lots and the campground. Not allowed on the beach, in the backcountry, or at the Beachcomber Café, and may not be left unattended.
Public Transportation: Orange County Transportation Authority
Useful Links: Crystal Cove State Park, historic district audio tour
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, April 14, 2014
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

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Accessible Wheelchair Icon looks like a wheelchair with balloon wheelsBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing
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