Route Report: Laguna Loop

Forgive me, but: this post only applies to cyclists living in the Orange County area, a subset of the population which I realize does not typically coincide with the subset of the population reading this blog. However, on the off chance that another soul wandering this land of infinite good weather and infinite freeways on two wheels comes across this site, I want to spare them the pains of figuring this out.

It seems sort of like an obvious route, but honestly, it took me about a month to trailblaze a variation of it that a) is longer than 20 km b) includes decent climbing and c) does not dead end onto any major freeways.

Start and end point is the Back Bay Parking lot, on University and Irvine Ave.

Words of advice:

1. Be careful on Laguna Canyon Road. It is a popular road for cycling, but honestly, it is heavily trafficked and the shoulder is narrow and poorly maintained; sometimes it is even obstructed with washed out sediment and/or construction barricades. Also, it’s often windy.

2. At the bottom of Laguna Canyon, stay to the right and take the short and steep detour up Cliff. It is very worth it for the ocean view, but most of all for the evasion of the horrendous PCH/Laguna Canyon intersection.

3. When riding on PCH through Laguna or CDM, just chill out, ride slowly, and pay attention. As far as I can tell, there is not a time of day during which these areas are not crowded. You will be riding between a line of parked cars and a line of moving cars, so getting “doored” is a very real thing to worry about.

4. Enjoy the Newport Coast climb into Kobe Bryant’s neighborhood, the next climb (up Ridge Park) is steeper!

5. Once you’ve summitted Ridge Park, turn around, and begin to descend: Stay alert to cars! First time I went down this, I was so entranced by having discovered such a wonderful, fast, singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, the-road-is-ALL-MINE descent that I failed to notice the Land Rover behind me until he honked and sped angrily by. Drivers here are not necessarily friendly, and are not used to cyclists.

6. Just use the crosswalks at MacArthur and San Joaquin. It’s not worth the risk.

So, total distance traveled is about 58 km according to my bike computer, 35 miles according to Google maps, which remarkably is pretty much the same distance when you take into consideration the arbitrary margin for error that I just magically came up with.


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