I took it easy yesterday on my four mile run. After pushing it on Monday, my legs were feeling tired. Knowing that Wednesday's run is going to be difficult (2 mile warmup, 8X200 intervals, 1 mile warm down), I wanted to save myself and just get an easy run in. There is no better place to do that than Crystal Cove, just south of Corona del Mar.
Crystal Cove is a California State Park that exists because the State made a deal with the Irvine Company for development rights. Basically, the Irvine Company gave California the land to the south of Pacific Coast Highway and the land in El Moro Canyon in return for the rights to develop the land to the north. The land to the north is now known as Newport Coast, where folks like Kobe Bryant live. What was left for us though, is a gem in the city. There are about 3 miles of beach and tide pools, and the wilderness of El Moro. I've camped up in El Moro, and once the sun goes down, you would never know that you were less than 5 miles from civilization. You can read more about El Moro here: http://therunningfatguy.blogspot.com/2008/07/el-moro-hike.html.
The catch for us runners is that it costs $10 to park. During off season, the parking kiosks close at 4PM, and entry after that doesn't require payment. But, now during the season, the kiosks are manned until late, so it would cost $10 for a 30 minute run. But - there is a little trick. Just before getting to Crystal Cove, there is a community known as Cameo Shores. Tun right into this community, and you can park on the street right along Pacific Coast Highway for free. It adds 1/2 mile each way to a run, but so what? I can see where it is a deterrent to weekend beach goers with a lot of stuff to take down to the beach, but for runners it's a good deal. The other good deal is to purchase an annual parking pass for $120. It's good at all State Parks - so if you go to other places (San Onofre, San Clemente, etc.), this is a really good deal. At $10 a day for parking at those places, it doesn't take long to break even! Last year I even used it at all the State Parks and Beaches along the Central Coast (Big Sur, Pfeiffer Beach, etc.)!