Dripping Cave Trail: Secret Hideout for Robbers in 1800s

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5.1 Miles


~2.5 Hrs




All Year

Elevation Gain

400 Ft

Within the canyons of Laguna Niguel, you’ll find a cave known as Dripping Cave with a shocking past pertaining to 19th-century thieves! You’ll love this Orange County hike that’ll take you to not only one unique cave but two.

Dripping Cave Trail is a 5.1-mile hike located in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, CA. It features two caves as well as biking and hiking trails. Dogs are not allowed on this trail. This is an easy, family-friendly hike.


Dripping Cave Trail Map



The wilderness park and trail are located at 28373 Alicia Parkway Laguna Niguel, CA 92677. You can access the parking lot via Awma Road.



The parking lot near the visitor’s center is open daily from 7 AM – sunset. The parking fee is $3.

The Adventure

To get to the actual trail, we walked past the Visitor Center.

I recommend going inside if you can! This newly re-opened center has exhibits like a small model of the Dripping Cave, archeological displays, and more. There are restrooms here as well.

To the left, we stopped to check out this crazy-looking contraption.

This historical relic dates back to the 1940s. The windrower was used to harvest hay and grass.

After that shortstop, it was time to continue.

About half of the hike is walking along this asphalt road. It’s a popular road for bicyclists.

Although it’s a bleak surrounding, we saw some gourds on the side of the road.

These buffalo gourds are native to the Southwestern US and Northern Mexico. Their seeds are high in protein!

FUN FACT: Native Americans used the gourd’s roots and leaves for medicinal purposes, such as applying them on the chest for chest pain.

We finally made it to Wood Canyon Trail where the fun begins.

There’s a porta-potty and plenty of shaded benches to the left if you want to stop for a snack break.

Before heading to the Dripping Caves we took a detour to Cave Rock.

Be aware of the signs to the left so you don’t miss this one!


Cave Rock

When walking to Cave Rock, there will be a junction.

Be sure to keep right where the wooden planks are.

We then shortly arrived at Cave Rock!

They’re pretty fun to explore!

You can find a lot of these cave formations in the Aliso & Wood Canyon Wilderness Park, but I have never seen one as cool as this one.

After hanging out inside, it was time for the main attraction!

To get back on Wood Canyon Trail, we walked on top of Cave Rock and followed the path back out to the main trail.


Dripping Cave

Not long after, we reached the sign that directed us to the Dripping Cave!

This cave is also known as “Robbers Cave”.

Sounds intriguing? Well, that’s because it definitely is! (You can find the crazy history and legend behind this cave at the bottom of the post.)

It might be hard to tell, but this cave can easily fit plenty of people.

I can definitely see why this was the perfect place to shelter in.

Here’s the opposite side from that previous angle.

If you look closely, you can see some of the peg holes that were most likely used to hang gear and other things.

This is definitely an amazing cave with a very interesting backstory. We not only got to see one awesome cave but two on this hike.

Who knew you could find such a gem nestled in the canyons of Laguna Beach?! I highly recommend visiting this family-friendly place.

As always, keep these places clean and graffiti-free. Catch us on our next adventure!

Dripping Cave History

In 1842, a man by the name of Juan Avila was granted over 13,000 acres of land, with Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park being part of that large property.

Over the years, there were established routes and even a trading post amongst the park boundaries.

An even more interesting piece of history takes part in this place. Between 1856-1857, an outlaw by the name of Juan Flores and his outlaw gang used the Dripping Cave as a hideout and shelter. They were infamously known to be livestock and stagecoach thieves, hence why the place is also known today as “Robbers Cave”.

You can still find some evidence to back up that legendary story, such as peg holes in the ceiling and even wagon tracks in certain parts of the landscape.

Photo and Historical Info Credits: Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Are dogs allowed on Dripping Cave Trail?

Dogs are NOT allowed on the Dripping Cave trail and in other parts of the Aliso & Wood Canyon Wilderness Park.

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I’m Phillip, and just like you, I feel very passionate about California and the outdoors. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, I thought I’d share them with you. Life goes by fast so get out there and enjoy it.  

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