I needed a change of scenery on Saturday. I wanted to go someplace new, see something different, have an experience. So I jumped in my car and headed south to Orange County, and ended up on an epic hike that took me from mountaintop to beach, and up and down plenty of stairs!
I researched hiking options before I left, and settled on Aliso Peak, a small mountain in Laguna Beach. I liked the idea of reaching a summit, and it was also close enough to the specific beach I wanted to visit. (More on that later.)
BEFORE I FORGET! Thanks to everyone that entered my Modern Movement giveaway. I’m happy to announce that the winner was Andy H. in Illinois! Congrats Andy, and enjoy your Modern Movement exercise goodies!
The trailhead was at Seaview Park, in neighboring Laguna Niguel. It’s a small park along a ridge, near the grand entrance of a fancy gated community. What I didn’t realize, before arriving, was that the trailhead was at a higher point than Aliso Peak, so my hike began by going down a big hill, and then climbing a smaller one to the Aliso Peak summit.
Even though it was terribly overcast, the views were gorgeous. Mountains to the sides, and the ocean stretching out in front of me. Here’s the little summit of Aliso Peak, with the Pacific behind:
It didn’t take that long to reach the summit, where there’s a bench to soak everything in. Apparently during certain times of the year you can spots whales from this peak, as they migrate along the coast. I could only imagine what it would be like on a bright, sunny day!
I could barely make out the beach that was my next destination, with the neighborhood of South Laguna Beach surrounding it, but I new it was there. So I started down from Aliso Peak, and when the trail ended in a residential neighborhood, I followed the streets to the Pacific Coast Highway.
The PCH follows a line of cliffs in this area, and I walked down it, looking for the one and only entrance to the beach, which was located at the bottom of the cliff. I bet you can guess how one gets to the beach from the top of the cliff? Yup, stairs! And I found ’em!
The beach is called the Thousand Steps Beach, and I first heard about it from my friend Jane, who lives in Orange County, a few years back. Don’t let the name intimidate you. There aren’t a thousand steps. There’s only 219!
The steps are all concrete, and they’re on the steeper side, compared to other public stairs. The great thing is that they are almost entirely covered by the arching branches of nearby trees, creating a nice canopy effect that must be really nice when it’s sunny (conditions I didn’t experience myself.)
Plus, a lot of those trees are flowering, so it really is a lovely, colorful stairway to descend, at least at certain times of the year.
The stairs spit you out directly onto the sand, and voila! There’s the beach!
The beach is clean, smooth, and surrounded by cliff-top houses, many of which have their own private stairways down to the beach. Those are the houses that I most coveted.
Since this was my workout for the day, I climbed the stairs twice, and then walked up and down the entire beach, which is probably not more than a 1/2-mile long.
I met a new crabby friend!
I climbed the stairs a third and final time after the walk along the beach, barefoot, because even though I had rinsed them, my feet were a little sandy. I sat down at the top, dusted off the remaining sand, and pulled my socks and shoes back on.
I really like the Thousand Steps Beach stairs, although they’re a little too far (two hours away) to be a regular workout venue. They’re a little too populated to be a good workout venue, too – lots of families and big groups of people on them at once, carrying surfboards and coolers and bags of beach stuff. But I glad I finally visited and checked them out!
From here, I had to make my way back to the car. And I could see Aliso Peak from the street, so I knew where to go.
Altogether, my hike and beach adventure took a little over two and a half hours, and I covered 5.1 miles, climbed 657 steps, and burned 1,100 calories.
It was nearly 7pm when I made it back to my car, but I wasn’t ready to head home. So I looked around online and saw that “Ocean’s 8” was playing at a nearby theater. I headed there.
I did something at the movies that I haven’t done in years: ate a dinner that was comprised solely of movie snacks. There was a long time in my life where eating a large popcorn at the movies would constitute my dinner, alongside a large soda and maybe a box of Reese’s Pieces. Talk about empty calories!
This time around, though, I was much healthier about my movie snack choices, and being healthier required a stop at a 7-11, and sneaking in my purchases. I bought chicken jerky, wasabi and soy sauce almonds, and chili lime roasted chickpeas.
“Ocean’s 8,” by the way, was good. Not great. The eight lead women were fantastic, and there was some neat con-man trickery, but there was also a big twist at the end that was disappointing more than anything.
Sitting in that movie theater chair felt great after my hike, and after the movie was over, I headed home after a nice, full, satisfying day.
Keep it up, David!
Follow me! I’m @keepitupdavid on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, and I’m on Google+ too! There’s also a “Sign Me Up” box on this page (at the top of the right-hand column) where you can subscribe to receive new posts via email!