How Long Is The Top Of The World Hike In Laguna Beach, California

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Hiking is by far one of the most rewarding outdoor activities. The fresh air, spectacular vistas, and sense of accomplishment are unparalleled. One such hike is the “top of the world route” in Laguna Beach, California. With their breathtaking views, and moderate trails, these hikes are not to be missed; but do you know how long the top of the world hike is?

Several routes of varying distances take you to the top of the world viewpoint. These routes range between 2.4 miles and 8.8 miles in length and vary in degrees of difficulty and duration. Most of these routes begin in the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park.

One of the best vantage points in California, the top of the world hike remains popular across the hiking demographic. However, there are some factors to consider, like, are dogs or bicycles allowed? What should you take with you for this length hike? Is the hike worth the effort? And are all the routes up similar?

The Various Routes To The Top Of The World

The top of the world viewpoint is aptly named. Once you have conquered the hill, you are afforded spectacular views of the coastline boasting Laguna Beach, Mount Baldy, and the Saddleback Mountains of Orange County, and if you’re fortunate enough, even views of Catalina Island.

The top of the world-view area is accessible via several routes. Below we look at some of these routes.

Top Of The World Via The Canyon Acres Trail

Route Duration And Length

Route Length: Approximately 2.4 miles long (both ways). The total elevation of this hike is 1020 feet, but you’ll only be making an ascent of 890 feet.

Duration: The hike itself should only take you roughly around 2 hours to complete.

Route Description

Most hikers describe the route to the vista as short but steep. The hike starts in Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park, Laguna Beach, California, and takes you through beautiful coastal scrub and forest vegetation.

This hike to the top of the world is an “out and back” route, which means you hike up and down the same trail unless you have somebody drive to the top and meet you after you’ve hiked up.

This route is used for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Route Difficulty

The route is considered to be moderate to difficult. Although it is relatively short, there is a steep incline at the start for about 80% of the hike. Once you reach the plateau, it becomes easier, but be prepared for a tough climb at first.

Top Of The World Via The West Ridge Trail

Route Duration And Length

Route distance: This route is approximately 5.4 miles long with an ascent of 443 feet.

Duration: The total time this route should take to complete is roughly 2 hours.

Route Description

The start of this trail is in the canyon view park, or you can start at the top of the world parking. When walking from the park below, you have the option for free parking in the area along the residential street, while the top of the world’s parking area is limited in space.

Going up the paved section of the hill, you’ll join the trail leading to the top of the world viewpoint. This trial is another out and back type of trail, but it affords some spectacular views of the surrounding vegetation.

This route is ideal for beginner hikers and those who may find more intense hikes undoable or less pleasant. Dogs are also allowed on the route (on lead) along this route but need to be aware of mountain bikes along the trail.

Route Difficulty

The West Ridge trail is considered an easy route, but there are still a couple of steep sections along the way.

Top Of The World Via The Mathis Canyon Trail

Route Duration And Length

Route distance: This route is one of the longest at 8.8 miles, and it incorporates several other trails.

Duration: This is a longer route, so set aside roughly 3 hours and 10 minutes to reach the top of the world.

Route Description

The route to the top of the world starts at the staging area/entrance to Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. This route follows the wood canyon, the Dripping cave, oak grove and eventually joins up with the car wreck/Mathis canyon trail.

Once you have completed this tricky section, you get onto the West ridge trail that leads to the top of the world.

Route Difficulty

Although this route is one of the longer hikes up to the top of the world, the going is mostly easy. The section through Mathis canyon and past the Car wreck is more difficult, but they are short hike sections.

Biggest Draw Cards Of The Top Of The World Hike

There are several reasons why you should hike up to the top of the world at least once in your life.

  • Most of the routes are relatively short and pass through national parks.
  • The view from the top is truly spectacular. With a view of the surrounding mountains and ocean, taking in the breathtaking scenery makes the climb worth it.
  • Along the route, most of the trails pass through Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park with its assortment of fauna and flora.
  • There are also a plethora of other hiking trails connected to these routes, with varying difficulties for the avid hiker.
  • At the top of the world, there is a kids’ play area and bathrooms, a parking lot, and benches/space for picnic blankets.

Alternative To Hiking The Route

For those who love spectacular panoramic views but would rather not go through the hassle of climbing a mountain to get to them, there is a driving route that takes you to the top of the world’s viewpoint.

After heavy rain, it is recommended not to do this route due to slippery muddy conditions at the beginning of the hike.

To Whom Would The Top Of The World Hike Appeal?

Routes leading to the top of the world views are varied enough to attract a range of demographics.

Some individuals who would appreciate this hike include:

  • Dog Walkers
  • Nature Lovers
  • Flowers
  • Photographers
  • Trail Runners

Things To Take With You When Hiking The Top Of The World

Most of the trails leading to the top of the world are devoid of shade, so it is highly recommended that you take a hat with you.

It would help if you also took plenty of water and a pair of good hiking shoes/hiking equipment for the more challenging trails.


Although several trails lead to the top of the world viewpoint, they range from roughly 2 miles to around 8 miles. Due to the hike’s location in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, many additional routes are connected. A benefit of hiking in this area is the spectacular views of the Laguna coastline and the saddleback mountain range.