Ormond Beach Family Hike: Port of Hueneme to Mugu Naval Base

~Tom Maxwell

Four miles, longer or shorter as you like.

Port Hueneme State Beach and Ormond Beach are just south of the city and port of Port Hueneme in Ventura county.

Watch for unexpected high waves coming over the dike or onto the beach.  Avoid stepping on least tern and snowy plover eggs. Do not go beyond the boundary fence at the Navy Base; target drones may be fired out to sea.

How to get there:
While Ventura Road is under construction, follow these directions: Take Victoria Avenue south from Route 101, 5.1 miles to Channel Islands Boulevard; turn left and go 1.6 miles to Ventura Road; turn right and go 1.9 miles to a metered parking lot on the beach, just east of the Port of Hueneme. You may leave a shuttle car at the south end of Arnold Road for your return or to do the hike in reverse. Arnold Road can be reached from Hueneme Road, which intersects Ventura Road a few blocks from the beach; or from Highway 1 going west on Hueneme Road.

Hike description:
What’s to see? The entrance to the deep water port and the shipyard at Port of Hueneme are of national importance. Automobiles and lemons are the chief import and export products. The lighthouse inside the fence is a county historical landmark. From the parking lot, walk west behind the dike until you reach the port entrance. Return the way you came, and continue down-coast.

The Port Hueneme Beach contains sand dunes and picnic tables protected by wind barriers. A lifeguard station stands on the public pier. At the back of the beach where Bubbling Springs Creek reaches the beach, a lagoon forms each winter. Many ducks congregate upstream. A foot trail upstream leads to an alternative free parking lot off Surfside at Joyce. Many wading birds feed in the lagoon. Usually its outlet to the sea is wadeable or traversable by a sand bar. If not, return to your car and begin the hike at the other end.

Beyond the lagoon, fences or signs will mark the usual nesting areas of endangered least terns and snowy plovers. Their eggs are sand colored and nearly invisible even to the alert hiker. Dogs running free frighten the birds and gulls will dive in to snatch the eggs or baby birds.

Stop to talk with the fishermen standing near the surf. Sometimes they will place unusual catches in a small pool just for you to examine. After you have passed the wastewater settling tanks, turn inland and walk the dike north of the salt-water marsh, dry in summer. The path will end near the parking lot on Arnold Road.

On the backside of the wastewater storage area, near the railroad spur, you may find patches of the endangered saltmarsh birdsfoot. The area can be reached by hiking in from Edison Road.

Photo ops: The Hueneme lighthouse is an historic landmark. Walk out to the bend in the pier for your group photos. It may require a telescopic lens to photograph the birds along the way. The generating plant makes a fine backdrop for pictures of hikers emerging from the early morning fog.

Tom Maxwell is a retired archeologist and university professor. The popular hike leader conducts natural history hikes for Coastwalk, the Sierra Club and other organizations.

Photo: Donald Mills

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