San Onofre State Beach is a popular southern California destination. It is famous for swimming and surfing but also offers camping, hiking, kayaking, and more. Located just south of San Clemente, the state park was established in 1971 by Ronald Reagan. The park consists of three main sections: San Onofre Surf Beach, San Onofre Bluffs, and San Mateo Campground.
The Best Hiking Trails at San Onofre State Beach
For active visitors, San Onofre offers abundant hiking trails near or along the beach. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including birds, seals, dolphins, and whales, as you hike.
1. Bluffs Beach Trail
This three-mile trail takes you along the beach, with the dramatic bluffs towering above. The trail can be obstructed during high tide, so check the tide before you start. The trail reaches the inactive San Onofre Power Plant at one end and Camp Pendleton Marine Base (home of San Onofre State Beach cabins) at the other.
2. Trails 1-6
If you want to add some elevation to your hike, choose to follow one or more of the six trails leading from San Onofre Beach up the canyons carved into the bluffs. Trail conditions range from wide roads to narrow switchback stairways.
3. Trestles Trail
Trestles Beach and Trail are named after the train tracks that run nearby. Trestles Beach is famous for its surf break. It's about a 1.5-mile hike south from Calafia Beach Park to San Mateo Point, which is a good turnaround point.
The Best Family Activities at San Onofre State Beach
San Onofre State Beach is well loved by families due to its broad selection of activities and welcoming sand and water.
1. San Mateo Campground
Outdoorsy families can take advantage of beachside camping at San Mateo Campground, where the sites offer amenities such as fire pits, toilets, and hot showers. The campground is connected to Trestles Beach by a 1.5-mile trail. For families wanting more creature comforts, San Onofre State Beach cabins and cottages are located at nearby Camp Pendleton, and there are various hotels by San Onofre State Beach.
2. Swimming and surfing
Many visitors to San Onofre State Beach enjoy swimming or wading in the ocean, especially on hot days. Those seeking more of a thrill can try out surfing at this historic site, which has been attracting surfers since the early 1900s. Some areas of the beach are rocky or have underwater reefs, and certain breaks, such as Trestles, are more appropriate for experienced surfers.
3. Trestles Trail
This trail, described above, is a good option for families with kids due to its modest length and smaller crowds. The train tracks run nearby, a draw for any train fans in your group. The trail ends at San Mateo Creek, a protected wetland that offers wildlife viewing.
Visit Other Popular State Parks
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- Deer Creek State Park Cabins
- Caledonia State Park Cabins
- Chickasaw State Park Cabins
- Black Moshannon State Park Cabins
- State Forest State Park Cabins
- Smith Rock State Park Cabins
- Watkins Glen State Park Cabins
- Savoy Mountain State Forest Cabins
- Potato Creek State Park Cabins