Want an enjoyable loop hike with ocean views and three new parks plus a preserve? Check out the new parks while you hike the Dana Headlands Open Space Trail.
Start at new Nature Interpretative Center atop the headlands and head out across the California Coastal Scrub and one of the last refuges of the Pacific Pocket Mouse. There are five overlooks along this section of the trail. It then climbs to Dana Strand Rd. and down the sidewalk to the South Strand Switchback Trail. A bit further on you catch the bike/ped trail to the Pacific Coast Highway and start the loop back.
For a longer loop hike, go down the switchbacks and along the Strand Beach to the funicular on the north end. Your choices here are stairs or funicular to the top, then back along the edge of Strand Vista Park to the Veteran's Memorial Plaza. Here you take the bike/ped trail up to CA 1, then get on the trail through Hilltop Park. Take the side trail up to the highest overlook on the trail and one with 360 views. Then through the park, down to the Harbor Point Park (3 overlooks) and back up the sidewalk to the Center.
Parking and Trail Access
From CA 1: Take Pacific Coast Highway southbound in Dana Point, turn right onto the Street of the Green Lantern and follow it to the Nature Interpretative Center at the end of the road on the headland. The name changes to Scenic Drive where it meets the Cove Rd.