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San Clemente State Parks on the Beach - Guide to San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California (in Orange County)

Since 1937 San Clemente has been one of the most popular beaches in California. A dramatic setting and invigorating air satisfy its many visitors, whatever their interest, energy level or state of mind. The mile long beach stretches between the curling ocean surf and the foot of a steep bluff. Midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, the park attracts water sports enthusiasts and those seeking respite from the inland heat or an escape from nearby metropolitan areas.

Overview of Beach in San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

Overview of Beach in San Clemente State Beach

Significant number of visitors are attracted to this beach due to its intense winds and dramatic location.

The majority of the visitors are water sport enthusiasts and those who wish to escape from inland heat and nearby metropolitan areas for the day.

Here is brochue of San Clemente State Beach.

Camping in San Clemente State Beach

Campground Map of San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

Campground map of San Clemente State Beach

CAMPSITES: Eight people maximum are allowed per campsite. The RV campground provides water, electrical and sewage hookups. The tent area provides fire pits, tables, shade ramadas and nearby water. Articles my not be tied to or hung from trees or brush.

GROUP CAMPS: Group Camp #1 is limited to 50 people and 20 vehicles. It is located on a bluff overlooking the ocean; beach access is by a steep, paved trail. Group Camp #2 is a tent-only campsite and limited to 50 people and 10 vehicles. Maximum vehicle length is 20 feet; you can drive in or back in. It has a partial blue water ocean view; beach access (approximately 1/8 mile) is by two fairly steep service roads. Stores, shops, restaurants and laundry facilities are available in town.

DAY-USE hours are from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. year round. The day-use area has 26 picnic sites, each with a stove, table and shade ramada; one group area that can accomodate 150 people; a 200-car parking lot and comfort stations with flush toilets.

PARK FEES are due and payable upon entry into the park. The campsite fee covers one vehicle. Extra vehicles are allowed for a fee. There is no charge for a towed-in vehicle. If a towed-in vehicle is detached and driven out of the park please be sure to display a camping receipt in the windshield for re-entry. VEHICLE

PARKING: Vehicles must be parked in legally marked spaces and must be parked on paved areas only. Maximum camper or trailer length is 30 feet. Dayuse vehicles may not be parked in numbered stalls.

FIRES AND FIREWOOD: Fires are allowed only in established fire rings, and must be attended at all times. Fires are not allowed on beaches. Collecting dead or downed wood is prohibited.

CHECK-OUT TIME is noon. Please vacate your site by that time. Check-in time is 2 p.m. No unaccompanied person under 18 years of age allowed without a note of parental consent.

QUIET HOURS are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Generators, TVs and radios may only be operated between the 225 Avenida Califia • San Clemente, CA 92672 • (949) 492-3156 hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Radios and other soundproducing devices must not be audible beyond your immediate campsite.

DOGS must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet and under your supervision at all times. They are not permitted on the trails or beaches (except for service dogs). Noisy and/or vicious dogs will be removed from the campground upon complaint. Please clean up after your pets. Dogs must be confined to a vehicle or tent at night.

ALCOHOL and glass containers are not allowed beyond your campsite.

Here is the detailed brochue of San Clemente State Beach Camping Map and regulations.

Hiking Trail in San Clemente State Beach

For a map of hikiing trails San Clemente State Beach refer to camping map shown above where you can hike in the Butterfly Trail near the beach entrance, nature trail and hike to beach trail. Those hiking trails are located just near the campsite as shown in the map above.

San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

Hiking via beach trail in San Clemente State Beach (shown in right)

Trestles Trail in San Clemente State Beach

To San Mateo Point is 3 miles round trip
"Our beach shall always be free from hurdy-gurdies and defilement. We believe beauty to be an asset as well as gold and silver, or cabbage and potatoes." This was the pledge of Norwegian immigrant Ole Hanson, who began the town of San Clemente in 1925. It was quite a promise from a real estate developer, quite a promise in those days of shameless boosterism a half-century before the California Coastal Commission was established.

Thanks in part to Hanson's vision, some of the peaceful ambiance of San Clemente, which he regarded as "a painting five miles long and a mile wide" has been preserved. And some of its isolation, too. Most everyone in the real estate community thought Hanson crazy for building in a locale 66 miles from San Diego, 66 miles from Los Angeles, but today this isolation attracts rather than repels. This isolation was one of the reasons President Richard Nixon established his Western White House in San Clemente.

San Clemente State Beach is a great place for a walk. The beach is mercifully walled off from the din of the San Diego Freeway and the confusion of the modern world by a handsome line of tan-colored bluffs. Only the occasional train passing over Santa Fe Railroad tracks (located near the shore) interrupts the cry of the gull, the roar of the breakers.
The trestles located at the south end of the beach at San Mateo Point give Trestles Beach its name.
Trestles Beach is one of the finest surfing areas on the west coast. When the surf is up, the waves peel rapidly across San Mateo Point, creating a great ride. Before the area became part of the state beach, it was restricted government property belonging to Camp Pendleton Marine Base. For well over 25 years, surfers carried on guerrilla warfare with U.S. Marines. Trespassing surfers were chased, arrested and fined, and on many occasions had their boards confiscated and broken in two. Find a veteran surfer and he'll tell you about escapes from jeep patrols. Many times, however, the cool marines would charitably give surfers rides while out on maneuvers.

This walk's destination, San Mateo Point, is the northernmost boundary of San Diego County, the beginning of Orange County. When the original counties of Los Angeles and San Diego were set up in 1850, the line that separated them began on the coast at San Mateo Point. When Orange County was formed from southern Los Angeles County in 1889, San Mateo Point was established as the southern point of the new county.

Amtrack Rail passing near San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

Amtrack Rail passing near San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

The enthusiastic, with the time and inclination can easily extend this beach-walk several miles south to San Onofre State Beach. Another option worth considering is to take the train to San Clemente and walk south from the Amtrak station.

Directions to trailhead: From the San Diego Freeway (I-5) in San Clemente, exit on Avenida Calafia and head west a half mile to Calafia Beach Park, where there is metered parking. You can also park (for a fee) at San Clemente State Beach. A limited amount of free parking is available in the residential area near the state beach.

North-bound motorists on I-5 will exit at Cristianitos Road, turn left and go over the freeway onto Ave. Del Presidente and drive a mile north to Calafia Beach Park.

The hike: From Calafia Beach Park, cross the railroad tracks at the newly erected stairway and head south. As you'll soon see, San Clemente State Beach is frequented by plenty of shorebirds, as well as plenty of surfers, body surfers, and swimmers.

At distinct San Mateo Point, which marks the border of Orange and San Diego counties, you'll find San Mateo Creek. The headwaters of the creek rise way up in the Santa Ana Mountains above Camp Pendleton. A portion of the creek is protected by the Cleveland National Forest's San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. Rushes, saltgrass and cattails line the creek mouth, where sandpipers, herons and egrets gather.

You can ford the creek mouth (rarely a problem except after winter storms) and continue south toward San Onofre State Beach and the giant domes of San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. Or you can return the same way.

Or here's a third alternative, an inland return route: Walk under the train trestles and join the park service road, which is usually filled with surfers carrying their boards. The service road takes you up the bluffs, where you'll join the San Clemente Coastal Bike Trail, then wind through a residential area to an entrance to San Clemente State Beach Campground.

Improvise a route through the campground to the park's entry station and join the self-guiding nature trail (brochures available at the station). The path descends through a prickly pear- and lemonade berry-filled draw to Calafia Beach Park and the trailhead. The wind- and water-sculpted marine terraces just south of the trailhead resemble Bryce Canyon in miniature and are fun to photograph.

If you want to walk the whole nature trail, you'll walk up to site #70 in the campground, then retrace your steps (100 yards or so) back to the Calafia Beach parking lot.

Location of San Clemente State Beach

The San Clemente State Beach is located at 33°24'11"N 117°36'17"W. The San Clemente State Beach is in San Clemente State Beach is located on the south end of the city of San Clemente in Orange County.

San Clemente State Beach from Interstate 5 South

Exit Ave. Calafia
Proceed straight onto Ave. Calafia
San Clemente State Beach entrance will be on your left side in ? mile.

San Clemente State Beach from Interstate 5 North

Exit Cristianitos Road
Turn left and proceed over the freeway
Turn right onto Ave. del Presidente
Turn left onto Ave. Calafia
San Clemente State Beach entrance will be on your left side in ? mile.

San Clemente State Beach can be contacted at 949-492-3156.

Here is a driving map to San Clemente State Beach.

View Larger Map

Here is a detailed list of other state beaches of California besides San Clemente State Beach.

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