By Brian Feinzimer
By Charles Lam
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Joel Beers
There are miles and miles of great bike trails throughout Orange County, from Chino Hills State Park in the east to the 15 miles of paved trails connecting Sunset Beach and Balboa. If you’re a novice, consider the 6-mile single track of Sycamore Run at Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park. With a 300-foot elevation gain, it’s an easy and scenic way to get your new tires dirty. For a more hair-raising experience, try the luge portion of the Santiago Truck Trail, located on Santiago Canyon Road, about 1.25 miles north of Cook’s Corner. It’s a steep, narrow, 1.5-mile single track that plummets 700 feet toward Live Oak Canyon Road. Stay to your left—there’s a gnarly drop-off to the right.
If you’re itching to put boot to boulder, there are a handful of spots in the county—or nearby—to do just that, such as Pirate’s Cove at Corona del Mar and Ortega Falls in the Cleveland National Forest. But, really, no one is going to confuse those areas with Joshua Tree. You might get more challenge—and more access to medical attention, if necessary—by climbing indoors. Anaheim’s Rock City offers a 6,000-square-foot, indoor climbing rope; a 2,000-square-foot, leadable wall; and an indoor climbing cave. Costa Mesa’s Rockreation boasts a 12,000-square-foot, textured climbing wall. And even Cal State Fullerton’s student rec center offers an alternative to banging your head against textbooks: an 1,100-square-foot, indoor climbing wall and a 30-foot wall with a crack. Check out www.indoorclimbing.com/california for all the info on these and other indoor rock-climbing facilities in Southern California.
Who doesn’t like sailing the ocean blue and becoming one with the wind and the waves? Who the fuck can afford a sailboat of their own? Only the kind of people we will probably never sit next to at a cocktail party. But you can learn to sail without coughing up a fortune. Contact Chris Jester, who runs Sail Time’s base in Newport Beach (www.sailtime.com), and instead of coughing up $200,000 for a boat, you can effectively lease one of his. But it’s still way pricey: For about $10,000, you get one-eighth ownership of a 33-foot boat. That comes out to 3.5 days per month. All maintenance and slip fees are paid for. Just want to learn to sail? Call Jester again. He also works with www.newportbeachsail.com, which trains adults to sail. For $750, you can take a three-day class that will train you how to sail a basic keelboat. Other classes teach you how to sail in open water, coastal navigation and skippering the biggest boat to Catalina or Santa Barbara islands. It can take two to three months to get certified on the biggest boats out there, and it will cost a few thousand dollars. Just want to be on a sailboat? Again: Jester’s your man. A third outfit he’s hooked up, Sail Newport Beach (www.sailnewportbeach.com), allows you to charter a captained boat for sunset sails ($400), half-day sails ($500) and full-day sails ($800). And if you just want to watch? Heck, any summer day you’re going to see plenty of sailboats in the harbors and on the coast. But the best day to watch a gazillion boats is June 21, the date of the this year’s Summer Solstice, or the Summer Sailstice among boaters, a global sailing day on which everyone tries to get their boats in the water.
Donning a wet suit makes scuba diving infinitely better than snorkeling in Orange County—especially if you get cold easily. And with sites such as Corona del Mar, Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente, you can go crazy trying to narrow down the best spot. Visibility is usually better in the winter, but in the summer, reefs are teeming with marine life. Picnic Beach, located off PCH at Myrtle and Cliff Drive in Laguna Beach, is a prime dive spot: It’s easy to get to, and there’s (usually) ample parking, bathrooms and picnic facilities (you can barbecue after you dive!). A paved ramp lets you wheel your gear down to the beach, and the protected cove makes for an easy entry and exit. A ton of colorful fish—garibaldi, goby, various bass species—hang out with anemone, moon sponges and flashy nudibranchs underwater at around 30 feet. If you’re lucky, you’ll maybe see eels, sharks or lobsters. Other dive sites to try: Rocky Beach, Diver’s Cove and Fisherman’s Cove up north. www.ocscuba.com.
As extreme as any sport you can think of, but as simple as just standing on a board and skidding into the water, skimboarding is as authentic an Orange County invention as Fender electric guitars and Balboa Island’s frozen bananas. You can pretty much skimboard at any sandy beach in Southern California, but the best place for beginners is north of the Seal Beach Pier. The best place for advanced skimboarders—and the world headquarters of the sport—is Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach. That’s where the sport truly originated and where Victoria Skimboards opened shop 35 years ago. “Laguna works so well because there’s a nice deep canyon offshore, so the waves hit the shore with really big breaks,” says Nick Aleandro, the team manager at Victoria Skimboards. “Plus, you need a nice, sandy beach to get to the water, and Aliso’s got that.” Skimboarding actually uses the same maneuvers from skateboarding and snowboarding, according to 14-time world skimboard champion and Laguna Beach native Bill Bryan. In skimboarding, you start running on the beach to catch a wave, while bodyboarders and surfers are already in the water. “The waves have a lot of power, and there’s a lot of running in soft sand, so it can get very tiring really quick, and you can get knocked down and spin out in the water or just laid out on the beach, so it has more than its fair share of danger, which just makes the rush all the more exciting,” Bryan says. It’s also an affordable sport: Cheap Chinese-manufactured skimboards go for as low as $9, though high-end boards can run as high $300. Victoria Skimboards, 2955 Laguna Canyon Rd., Ste. 1, Laguna Beach, (949) 494-0059; www.victoriaskimboards.com.