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Aliso Summit Fairy Trail by Atlas Obscura March 2017

This beautiful ridge-top trail is dotted by tiny homes apparently built by a group of itinerant fairies. 

In recent years the Aliso Summit Trail, a picturesque ridge-top trail overlooking the Aliso and Woods Canyon wilderness park, has been colonized by a group of itinerant fairies under the leadership of their queen, Fairy Lily. The fairy queen has constructed her castle along the ridge top and many of her subjects have followed suit, building homes in the trees and bushes along the trail.

There are at least a dozen tiny fairy houses dotting the vista-filled hike, which began materializing mysteriously starting in 2016. The fairies have chosen bright multicolored doors for their little homes and some have decorated their gardens with statues and furniture. They have even built a variety of communal buildings, including a cricket auditorium, playground, and bonfire circle. More recently, some trolls have started to move in, and the fairies ask that visitors not feed them. 

Rather shy, the fairies sleep during the day, coming out only at dusk when the trail closes to the human public. But a variety of Southern California wildlife can normally be seen along the trail even if the fairies themselves are shut in their homes. Aliso Canyon is home to Aliso Creek, one of the last few watercourses in Orange County that is not divided into channels. Despite the impact of urban development in its watershed, the creek retains some biodiversity and supports wildlife in protected environments. The fairy homes have a great view of the creek and the narrow gorge where it reaches the Pacific Ocean.

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Aliso Canyon mouth
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Know Before You Go

Street parking is available beside the trailhead on Pacific Island Drive. The trail is a packed dirt and decomposed granite fire road, suitable for bikes and strollers, but the entrance is not wheelchair accessible. The trail is mostly flat but does feature some short steep slopes. There is no access into the wilderness park, all such trails having been closed for wilderness restoration. Paper maps of the fairy structures are available from a box hanging from a fence at the trailhead.



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