Orange Section 1

Seal Beach Pier to Huntington Beach Pier

Orange Section 1

Seal Beach Pier to Huntington Beach Pier

Seal Beach retains some of the earthy charm of another time with a tree-lined Main Street only three blocks long ending at the foot of the pier. In contrast to its big neighbor Long Beach, Seal Beach has little going on, and it looks like they would like to keep it that way. If the huge population inland ever discovers the old beach town, the quiet ambiance will disappear. Locals hang out in Eisenhower Park and on the pier where Orange County's Coastal Trail begins. The route follows the beach except for a detour around the mouth of Anaheim Bay.

From the pier walk south on the wide sandy beach or on the sidewalk in front of the beachfront buildings to the Anaheim Bay north jetty at ½ mile. Turn left at the end of the last building, walk one block, then jog ½ block right to Seal Beach Blvd. and follow it inland to Highway 1 at ⅞ mile.

Turn right and follow the shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway. Beyond 1¼ miles the wetlands of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge lie on your left. Cross the bridge over Anaheim Bay at 1¾ miles and continue past the gated Surfside community on your right into Sunset Beach. Turn right on Anderson Street at 2⅞ miles, marked by a large wooden tower, and walk down the street along the edge of the gated community to the beach.

Turn left at the tideline and walk down the beach to the end of the houses at 4¼ miles. This marks the beginning of Bolsa Chica State Beach. The RV enroute camp site lies inland beside the highway. Continue down coast along the tideline. Across the highway on Warner Avenue around 4⅞ miles sits the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Interpretive Center, worth a visit. Farther down the beach at 5¾ miles, you pass the parking lot for Bolsa Chica State Beach. Locals still call this

Tin Can Beach because in the 1960s millions of cans littered the sand here. Now parking for thousands of cars and conveniently located restrooms and showers line the beach, attesting to its popularity.

Continuing down Bolsa Chica Beach, you reach Blufftop Park in the city of Huntington Beach at 7½ miles. Either walk the paved path atop the 30-foot bluff or continue on the beach. If you walk the beach at higher tides, farther along riprap on the beach may force you onto the bluffs. This long stretch of beach takes you into the heart of what was called Surf City in the 1960s. It's where the rock band the Beach Boys gained fame and the surfing culture really blossomed. Surfing still reigns as king and queen here. The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum documents the history. You'll probably find a horde of people, especially in the summer, plopped on towels or taking the waves as you end your hike at the Huntington Beach Pier at 9¾ miles.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS AND LOOPS: The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Interpretive Center on Warner Avenue a block off Pacific Coast Highway offers a parking lot and trailhead for the reserve. Another trail starts across the highway from the main entrance to Bolsa Chica State Beach. You can walk several miles of trail exploring this significant remnant of a vast marine estuary. Read how activists saved this wetlands in the adjacent feature article The Coastal Wetlands of California.

Distance: 9¾ miles (15.7 kilometers)

Open to: Hikers. Bicyclists on paved path.

Surface: Beach, paved bike path.

Access point: Seal Beach Pier.

How to get there: From the San Diego Freeway (I-405) take the Seal Beach Blvd. exit and head south for 3.5 miles. Turn west on Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) for .5 mile then south on Main Street. Go three blocks to the pier at the end of the street.

Other access:

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain/loss: Negligible.


Further information: Seal Beach Lifeguard Station (562)430-2613, Bolsa Chica State Beach (714)846-3460, Huntington State Beach (714)536-1454, Huntington City Beach (714)536-5281.

Facilities: Restrooms, water, picnic tables and parking at Seal Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach. Restrooms at Huntington Beach Pier.

Campgrounds: Bolsa Chica State Beach has an enroute RV campground for self contained vehicles only. Huntington City Beach also has an enroute RV camp but reservations are only available within 30 days of your planned stay. For reservations call (714)536-5280. Several private RV parks near Disneyland about 8 miles inland accept tenters. Try Travelers World RV Park, Canyon RV or C.C. Camperland.

Lodging: Seal Beach and Huntington Beach have abundant lodging. Colonial Inn Hostel is in Huntington Beach (714)536-3315.

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