Laguna Niguel, Lake Area
As the name implies this section of the City surrounds the large man-made lake within the Orange County maintained Laguna Niguel Regional Park. Starting clockwise and using Streets for rough borders this area lies around and within the 73 Toll Road, Camino Capistrano, Crown Valley Parkway, Niguel Road, Highland Drive, and Alicia Parkway to Pacific Park Drive. The newest school, Laguna Niguel Elementary is not far from the Lake.
Besides the Regional Park and Lake, the Lake Area has the Crown Valley Park, Pool and Sprayground, El Laso Basketball Courts, Laguna Niguel Skate & Soccer Park, La Paz Sports Park, as well as other Parks and Trails. The other City maintained Parks include, Clipper Cove Park, Lilly Shapell Park (located in a guard-gated tract but accessible), Niguel Heights Park, Rancho Niguel Park, Ridge View Park and Yosemite Park. Trails include the northern trailhead to Aliso Summit Trail, the separated northern section of Salt Creek Trail and Niguel Trail which can be used as a Horse Trail and leads via a tunnel under La Paz Road to the Regional Park.Not far from the landmark Lake is another landmark the Ziggurat Building. Originally built by an aerospace company in the 1960’s the U.S. Government now owns it and officially it is called the Chet Holifield Building. Many homes in the Lake Area have views of the Lake or the Ziggurat but some of the best views in this section of town are the views of the snowcapped mountains in winter, Aliso Creek and Woods Canyons and some even have ocean views and the cooling breezes that go along with that.
Laguna Niguel, Salt Creek Area
Salt Creek Beach is probably World renowned since above the bluffs of the beach is the Ritz-Carlton Resort. The Salt Creek Area of Laguna Niguel is bound by Camino Del Avion, Crown Valley Parkway, Niguel Road, Marina Hills Drive, and includes tracts on both sides of Golden Lantern. Even though the Salt Creek Area of Laguna Niguel is still about a mile from Salt Creek Beach it gets its name from Niguel Road. How, you ask? When Laguna Niguel was first developed and was referred to as South Laguna Beach or Sea Country, Niguel Road was call Salt Creek Road. Since Salt Creek Road runs down the middle of this section of the City it makes perfect sense to call it the Salt Creek Area.
Aside from the 5 Star Resorts along Niguel Road’s beach end or maybe because of them, you will find some of the priciest tracts, homes and estates in Laguna Niguel. Oddly enough you will also find the lowest priced condominiums as well. These condos are actually old apartment conversions that were built in the City’s early years and may become much more expensive as the new City Hall, Library and Shopping Mall development area is completed.This section of the City is the largest of the four areas and that’s probably why it has the most Parks and Trails. The southern portion of the Salt Creek Trail follows Salt Creek along to the Pacific Ocean and has many connecting fingers to explore throughout this section of town. The somewhat uninteresting Bear Brand Park Trail makes use of otherwise unusable land that developers were made to put aside as open space. Finally the Long View Trail that is hidden behind a gated tract of million dollar homes, but is publicly accessible and has views of the ocean all the way down the coast to Mexico. Parks include: Bear Brand, Beacon Hill, Chapparosa, Long View, Marina Hills Park, Niguel Road Park, Ocean Breeze, Park-Vista, Pooch Park, Redondo View Node, Reef View Node, and Seminole Park.
Laguna Niguel, Sea Country Area
Possibly the oldest area of Laguna Niguel, the Sea Country section of town gets its name from the original marketing to potential home buyers by the developers Cabot and Forbes. Laguna Niguel was actually recognized with its own Zip Code by the Postal Service as South Laguna Beach in the early 60’s. The developers used the term Sea Country to help you visualize an area that was still surrounded by ranches and stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean, hoping someday unincorporated Monarch Beach would be so inclined as to be a part of Laguna Niguel. When our City finally incorporated in the late 80’s, Monarch Beach voted to be a part of Dana Point. No one refers to the City as South Laguna Beach anymore and the Sea Country name and signs quietly disappeared.
This section is bordered by Crown Valley Parkway to the north, Marina Hills Road to the South, Camino Capistrano East and Niguel Road on the West. Within these borders the first elementary school in town, Crown Valley School, was built and not long after Niguel Hills Middle School. Among the oldest tract of homes is the Pacesetter Homes where the first homeowners put down roots. The newest place of interest in Sea Country is the Metrolink Station that can be accessed from both Camino Capistrano and Forbes Road.
There are a few parks, trails and recreation areas in this section of town and harkening back to the early days a horse trail too. The horse trail begins near the south terminus of Hidden Hills Drive. This is a trailhead for the separated Southern section of the Salt Creek Trail that leads all the way down to Salt Creek Beach. Two other trailheads can be found in Sea Country, the northern entry to the Colinas Bluffs Trail and the southern entry to Oso Creek Trail.
When it comes to parks you would think that the oldest section of town might have the most or largest parks. There are only 5 public parks in Sea Country. Hidden Hills Park, Juaneno Park, La Plata Park, La Hermosa Park and Vista Plaza Park. Most of these have recreation available such as Soccer, Baseball or Softball, playground equipment along with picnic tables and restrooms. Vista Plaza Park has only views to offer since it was reclaimed after several houses were lost in a landslide many years ago.
Laguna Niguel, Summit Area
Everything west of the intersection of Crown Valley Parkway and Niguel Road encompasses the Summit Area of Laguna Niguel. As the name implies this has the highest points in the City. Views, views, views. Views of the ocean, views of the mountains and views of the valleys below can be found in most of the tracts located in this area. In fact a few homes can boast about having all three views.
While the hubbub of the Towne Center, City Hall, Library etc. all fall within this section of the City there is plenty of open wilderness to see as well as Parks and Trails. It is possible, with a little knowledge, to hike the trails located in the Summit Area down to the beach or up into the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest. There are two trails in the Summit Area and both are spectacular for views, wildlife and peacefulness. Aliso Summit Trail can take you to other trails up into the mountains. Basically this trail follows the ridge above Aliso Creek and Woods Canyons. It is also possible to connect, via Pacific Park Drive, to the other trail in the Summit Area the Laguna Ridge Trail and stick your toes in the sand at Aliso Creek Beach in Laguna Beach.The City Parks in this area are equally impressive with views too. Although Niguel Woods Park does not have the views it is still a special small neighborhood park with a soccer area and a playground. For the views however you must plan to have a picnic on the ridge overlooking Laguna Beach at Seaview Park at the end of Talavera Drive. Another spectacular ocean view park is the Orange County maintained Badlands Park just before the gates at the end of Isle Vista. A plaque explains the reason for the name, but bad it is not. A great place to stroll and look for whales.