1940s Car Wreck Trail Hike in Laguna Beach

Jul 12, 2021

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Distance 

3.4 Miles

Time

~2.5 Hrs

Difficulty

Moderate

Season

All Year

Elevation Gain

836 Ft

Looking for an interesting and cool hike to beat the heat this summer? Car Wreck Trail in Laguna Beach’s deep canyons is one that I think you’ll enjoy. You just wouldn’t expect to see an abandoned car on this trail.

Car Wreck Trail is a 3.4-mile loop trail located within Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park in Laguna Beach, CA. The hike is rated as moderate because of steep and rocky sections. There are bathrooms located at Alto Laguna Park’s parking lot. Dogs are not allowed on this trail. Not recommended for young children. 

Map of Car Wreck Trail

Directions & Parking

For directions to Car Wreck Trail’s trailhead and parking lot in Laguna Beach, click here.

Parking is available at the Alta Laguna Park. There are restrooms located here.

The Hike to the Abandoned Car Wreck

The trailhead starts at the Alta Laguna Park.

It’s been getting a lot warmer lately and I was pleased to find out that this trail was pretty fresh since it’s close to the beach!

The Top of the World is actually located right by this trail! It’s perfect for ocean and sunset views.

You’ll continue waking on this paved trail known as W Ridge. There isn’t much shade in this area, but it’s not that bad in the evenings.

Further down we spotted this cave! This is off-trail and is a little sketchy to go to, so I don’t recommend it.

But it’s really cool to know that there are lots of caves nestled in these hills!

Eventually, I reached a fork, make sure to keep straight, and continue on West Ridge.

We reached Car Wreck Trail up ahead. You can go either way, but I recommend taking the right side. It’s a lot rockier, but it’s easier to walk down this trail than to go up.

Car Wreck Trail is also a mountain biking trail. Be very aware of mountain bikers speeding down!

It’s pretty rocky and steep in most sections, so I recommend bringing good-quality hiking shoes.

Not too long after, we spotted the Car Wreck!

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At the Mysterious Car Wreck

Let’s check out the vintage car! 

This car is a 1946 Dodge Coup that fits about 5 passengers.

Here’s a closeup of what used to be a fully intact engine.

The inside of the car. You can see the springs of where the seats once were.

No one knows exactly why or how this classic car made its way down to the canyon. There are a few theories, which I’ll go over in a bit.

From here, we passed this sign and continued the loop through a shady area.

It definitely doesn’t feel like you’re in Laguna Beach. The quietness and peace from the hustle and bustle are sure to make you forget there’s a beach close by.

After the bridge, there’s flat ground before eventually hiking back up on a long and steep road. It’s a little tiring but the sunset views are just amazing!

I really enjoyed this hike to the Car Wreck trail. It’s a great summer hike.

From the ocean views to the caves to the hidden and shady canyons, you’ll get to experience the different aspects that Laguna Beach has to offer.

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So, What’s the Story Behind the Car Wreck Trail?

There are a few legends or theories as to how this car ended up here.

Legend #1 is that some crazy drunk teenagers stole the vehicle and took it for a spin but ended up driving it off and abandoning it.

Legend #2 is that flash floods washed the vehicle down. There’s evidence of some strong flash floods in the 60s within the Laguna Beach area.

Whatever the case is, one can only wonder who the owner was and how it got to be in such an unlikely place.

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Hello, There!

We’re Monica and Phillip. Just like you, we share a passion for the outdoors and our beautiful state of California. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, we thought we’d share them with you! We hope this blog shows you tons of new CA adventures!