While staying in Mission Viejo, we wanted to find a hike within a half hour, researched a bit and came up with Alta Laguna Park. Also nicknamed the Top of the World, your hike on the Western Ridge begins to the left of a play area. Free parking, decent bathrooms, and water fountains are plusses. You hike on a sandy path, some of it packed down, but some of it is, well, sandy. There are lots of hills, but the hike out is more downhill and the hike back is more uphill. Good cardio and quad building! You can see both sides of the ridge, to the ocean by Laguna Beach and to the valleys and mountains to the east. Fantastic views!! You truly feel like you are on top of the world! We hiked about 4miles and it was a good workout (we are both quite fit). Beware, there is no shade, so hiking during cooler or cloudier times is best. The only drawback is that the trails are not that well marked. I downloaded a map and that helped. Also, be aware that there are lots of bikers (mountain bicycles) on the trail, but everyone was polite and warned us of their approach.
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