Dana Point harbor - LagunaBeachBest.com

After a week of eating debauchery (including Halloween candy, glory), I decided that early Sunday morning deserved the “Di Stair Crawl,” a most amazing tour of ups and downs, varied terrain and plenty of challenging stair sets over something close to a 7-mile loop.

Granted, as much as I love Laguna Beach, I do this “Best Stair Run Ever” at the height of neighboring Dana Point because I can run something of a closed loop without a lot of sand in my toes. And, the views are so extreme that it actually takes my mind off the grueling (but oh so beneficial) workout.

If you get to one end of this run and opt to call a friend to pick you up in exchange for a Bloody Mary, you’ll have 764 stairs under you belt. Complete this entire loop and you’ll have conquered 1,528. And, if you’re interested in adding the “optional” stairs below (I didn’t run them on Sunday because it was too muddy),  you’ll actually run 1,616 stairs!

1. Start: Marriott Dana Point on Lantern Park – 119 stairs
 Run around the park to the first set of stairs and descend. (Remember, this is the last set you’ll go back UP when you return. Lovely.)

Lantern Park stairs - Dana Point

2. Run to Heritage Park stairs – 167 stairs
5 sets of stairs to the top of Heritage Park, pictured here are #1 set and #3 set)

Heritage Park stairs - Dana Point Heritage Park more stairs - Dana Point

Your view from the top of Heritage Park!
And you can’t even see the stairs you just huffed up – all like a bad dream!

Heritage Park Dana Point

3. Dana Point Upper Harbor– 172 stairs
Certainly one of the most exquisite views you can hope for while running stairs. Any guesses on which movie starring John Travolta was filmed on these stairs?
Dana Point upper harbor pathway stairs
4. OPTIONAL – Headlands Nature Park and Upper Strands Entry to Strands Beach
Run through the Nature Park for 14 added dirt stairs, and then descend 74 stairs to land on the Boardwalk at Strands Beach.

Upper Strands Beach stairs

5. Strands Beach – 174 stairs
What goes down on one side must come up. Because I didn’t do the optional loop, I ran to this point, descended the stairs and came back up again to begin the route home.

Strands Beach stairs

Cool cross-through path from Strands to Nature Park Trailhead
No stairs here, but a deceiving climber of a path. The foliage smells so great, though, it’s one of my favorite parts of the run.

Sidewalk crossthrough in Dana Point

6. Strands trailhead to Nature Park, Dana Point side – 25 stairs

Nature Park trailhead to Strands LBB

7. Nature Park to Dana Point’s Blue Lantern – 107 stairs

Strands stairs to Blue Lantern LBB

Then, it’s back to the Upper Harbor stairs, the Heritage Park 5-setter and, finally, grueler of a last climb back up the Lantern Park stairs to another vista view park and your welcoming car. 

Isn’t this the most amazing, best stair run ever?