The Canyon Acres Trail is a challenging "reverse" trail that descends from an isolated section of the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, and requires a steep hike back up. The diverse landscapes and wildlife of the sanctuary it winds through will give your dog plenty to sniff at while you take in the beautiful visuals.
The trailhead is located in the small Alta Laguna Park on Alta Laguna Boulevard. Amenities include ample parking, toilets, picnic areas, and running water. It's only a short walk from the start of the trail to a popular photographic vista that locals call "The Top of the World." You can see mountains and desert valleys stretching for miles in a full 360 degree panorama from here.
The Canyon Acres Trail starts as a fire road and descends past sandstone caves into a wooded canyon. You'll see interesting rock formations and great views of the Pacific Ocean as you make your way down. The canyon shelters sensitive plant species including dudleya and hummingbird sage, as well as large mammal species like coyotes and bobcats. Many birds move among the park's networked sections, including peregrine falcons, bald eagles, cactus wrens, and yellow-breasted chat.
The trail ends at a bridge that connects it with Canyon Acres Drive. There are some benches here in the shade where you can rest and prepare yourself for the steep hike back up to the trailhead on Alta Laguna. You could also call a friend to pick you up from here, as the trail's connections to the streets on either end allow it to function like a short point-to-point trail.
The Canyon Acres Trail is popular with other dog walkers and cyclists. Expect to meet many other people and pups on your hike and to have to move aside at times for passing bikes. All the same, this still feels like a wild place. You and your pup will not only get a great workout here, but get a taste of the wilderness that used to cover these urban lands.