Bluff Top Trail in Dana Point: Discovering the Historic Arches

Hey everyone! I recently spent a wonderful day out at the Bluff Top Trail in Dana Point, and I just had to share the experience with you all. If you’re looking for a scenic yet easy walk that offers breathtaking harbor views, this trail is a must-visit.

The Bluff Top Trail is located right in the heart of Dana Point, above the harbor with stunning views. It’s not a long or challenging walk. It’s only 0.2 miles long.

the Bluff Top trail and arches in Dana Point
Bluff Top trail and arches in Dana Point

What I Like About the Bluff Top Trail

I started my walk at Heritage Park, which leads up to the Bluff Top Trail. To get from the park to the trail, you need to take quite a few stairs. It’s a bit of a climb, but totally worth it for the views at the top. If you want to skip the stairs, there’s an easier option. You can park for free in the neighborhood around Camino Capistrano and Violet Lantern and head straight to the trail from there.

view of the historic arches at Bluff Top trail
View of the historic arches at Bluff Top trail

Starting from this point, the trail is pretty short, but every step is packed with beauty. It overlooks the ocean and Dana Point Harbor where you can see the boats come and go from the harbor.

view of the harbor from Bluff top trail
Harbor, jetty, and the ocean view from the trail

As I started my walk, the first thing that hit me was the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. The trail runs along the top of the coastal bluffs, and every few steps, there’s a new angle or a new sight to take in.

Entrance lookout at the Bluff Top trail in Dana Point
Entrance lookout at the Bluff Top trail in Dana Point
Neighborhood to park at Bluff Top Trail
Neighborhood to park at Bluff Top Trail
Entrance to Bluff Top Trail at the Camino Capistrano and Violet Lantern street
Entrance to Bluff Top Trail at the Camino Capistrano and Violet Lantern street

One of the highlights of the Bluff Top Trail is the viewing platforms along the way. These platforms are perfect spots to take a moment and snap some photos. I found myself stopping several times just to take pictures.

Here is a video I made of the Bluff Top trail:

The trail itself is paved and well-maintained. Along the way, there are a few historical markers that tell the story of Dana Point. The trail is short but includes some stairs. Halfway along, you’ll find a wooden bridge that offers fantastic views.

walking trail at Bluff Top Trail in Dana Point
Walking trail at Bluff Top Trail in Dana Point. You can pretty much see the whole trail from the beginning to the end.
Dana Point harbor view from Bluff Top Trail
Dana Point harbor views from the Bluff Top Trail
beautiful harbor view from Bluff Top trail

You’ll also encounter The Hide Drogher Statue. This statue commemorates the New England traders from the 1800s who used to throw cow hides over the cliff to trade for American-made goods from the ships waiting in the harbor below.

Bluff Top walkng trail
Many short stairs along the trail
statue at Bluff Top Trail
Lookout with the statue at Bluff Top Trail
wooden bridge at Bluff Top trail in Dana Point
Wooden bridge at Bluff Top trail
stairs to the arches at Bluff Top trail
Stairs to the arches at Bluff Top trail

The arches you see along the Bluff Top Trail in Dana Point have a pretty cool history. They’re part of what’s left from an old hotel that was built back in the early 1920s. The hotel was called the Dana Point Inn, planned as a luxury seaside resort. However, the Great Depression hit, and the plans for the hotel fell through. The structure was never completed, and eventually, it was torn down.

historic arches in Dana Point
The Bluff Top trail goes through the arch
I'm standing at the arches in Dana Point
You can take beautiful pictures of the arches
view of the new docks at the Dana Point harbor from Bluff Top trail

The arches are remnants of the original construction and have been preserved as a historical feature along the trail. They stand as a kind of gateway on the trail, offering a window to the past and adding a unique character to the walk.

The trail takes about 10-15 minutes to walk but it can be busy and there are no bathrooms. The park is open from 6am to 10pm. Dogs are welcome but need to be on a leash.

lookout on the other side of the Bluff Top Trail
Lookout on the other side of the Bluff Top Trail
park hours sign at the beginning of Bluff Top trail

If you want to park free on Amber Lantern Street, there’s a street sweeping on Wednesdays from 8 am to 10 am. If you want to check out the trail during these hours then park on the Santa Clara Street.

me on the beach
About the author

Hi, I'm Kat, the adventurous spirit behind TasteCaliforniaTravel, your guide to the hidden wonders of California. Having called California home for the last 15 years, I am thrilled to take you along on my journey and share the adventures that this incredible state has to offer.

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