Hiking Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park’s Car Wreck Trail in Southern California

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a little (or a lot) of motivation to do an intense workout. During my 6+ mile runs, I fantasize about chugging a large glass of chocolate milk afterwards. My motivation to hike up, down, and around Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park? One specific trail: Car Wreck. 

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is laced with hiking trails ranging in difficulty. When my parents told me they’d hiked a trail with a wrecked car, I had to check it out.

Something you should know about me: I LOVE the after effects of a strenuous workout (you better believe hiking falls under the strenuous workout category), but the during? Not so much. I chant to myself “tight butt, strong quads, chiseled calves” as I climb up steep hills. But knowing I’m climbing towards something motivates me to keep going.

Hence the appeal of Car Wreck.

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My parents and I started at Laguna Beach’s Top of the World, a scenic spot overlooking Laguna Beach, and made our way down towards Rock It trail, which would lead us to Car Wreck.

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Top of the World

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I soon learned where Rock It trail’s name came from! The dirt disappeared under layers of slick rock, and I was beyond thrilled we were hiking down, not up. To all those who mountain bike: I will forever be in awe of your ability to make it down (and up) trails like this without shattering your bones.

WOULD YOU GO DOWN THIS ON A BIKE?

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Rock It trail

No thank you! After we made it down the trail, my parents told me Car Wreck — which we needed to ascend — was just as steep as Rock It (greaaaaaat), but not as long. We hiked a little more through the canyons, through tree canopies, and past caves until we finally reached the trail we set out for.

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Spoiler alert, if you’re walking UP Car Wreck, the car is at the base of the trail! I wanted to lift the metal frame and plop it at the end, that way I could imagine it as I huffed up the damn rocky mountain.

But alas, sometimes life isn’t fair. So after maybe five steps in I saw the car. Car Wrck is another trail name that describes exactly what you’re getting.

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The car itself is a modern work of art displaced by nature. How did it get there? Who was the driver? Were there passengers? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!

Nobody knows the backstory; it’s an unsolved mystery that continues to attract people like me and my family.

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A note placed in what would be the hood.

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As a creative person who loves to distract herself while doing unpleasant activities (such as walking up a steep-ass rocky trail with the blazing sun overhead), I started imagining what actually happened — this was in between cursing, tripping, and wondering why I continuously put myself in these situations.

I did in fact make it back up the mountain, but rather than indulging in chocolate milk post-hike, my mom and I rewarded ourselves with chai tea by the poolside when we got home (my dad opted for what he calls a red drink…I think it’s fruity iced tea.).

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If you’re looking for a total leg and gluteal workout, Google difficult hiking trails and find one near you. Throwing yourself in nature beats setting the treadmill on maximum incline and looking at a baby TV screen — or worse, a blank wall — for hours. You’ll get the same kickass workout but with a more scenic backdrop.

And you won’t have to wipe down a machine afterwards.

Cheers to living your best life!

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