Ventura Section 2

Faria Beach County Park to Ventura City Pier

Ventura Section 2

Faria Beach County Park to Ventura City Pier

This section offers a pleasant, easy walk along Old Pacific Coast Highway, followed by a refreshing walk on the relatively natural beach and parkland at the mouth of the Ventura River before reaching the developed beachfront of the city of Ventura.

From Faria Beach County Park, walk south on Old Pacific Coast Highway, rounding Pitas Point and passing the community of Solimar. If the tide is low, you can walk the exposed beach in front of the houses. At 1⅝ miles the houses end while our route continues along the shoulder overlooking the riprap and what little sand remains on Solimar Beach.

Continue along Old Pacific Coast Highway past more houses, with the Santa Ynez Range towering inland from nearby Highway 101. At 4 miles take the entrance road into Emma Wood State Beach. The park features campsites along the park road overlooking a cobble beach which you can walk at all but high tides.

The park road ends at 5¼ miles, but continue on the path a short distance before turning down to the widening beach.

Walk the cobble beach south. You soon enter Seaside Wilderness Park which seems quite wild with the cobbled beach, sand dunes, large cypresses and Monterey pines, and the highway finally ⅜ mile distant. As you approach the river mouth and the Ventura City limits, you see thick riparian foliage, then the estuary at the mouth of the river.

You reach the Ventura River mouth at 6⅛ miles, usually sand barred or sometimes flowing but shallow. In the event it's flooded, return to the bike path at the south end of Emma Wood State Beach and follow it inland across the Main Street bridge and back to the coast. The main CCT route continues past the estuary, climbing the river bank to meet the bike path where it comes down the east bank of the river. Follow the bike path down coast (east at this point) toward Surfers Point with the Ventura County Fairgrounds on the left. The path was damaged by 1997 winter storms, so several short detours take you briefly into the fairgrounds parking lot. At low tide you can also walk the beach around Surfers Point, well known among surfers for the fine break. When the fairgrounds end, you reach formal Promenade Park at 6⅜ miles. After passing in front of the high-rise Holiday Inn, you reach the Ventura City Pier and section's end at 7¾ miles.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS AND LOOPS: From Emma Wood or the Fairgrounds walk out and back on the Seaside Wilderness Park beach for a taste of what this coastline was like before development.

To get a sense of the history of Ventura, walk a few blocks inland to the truly historic, interesting and somewhat unappreciated old downtown district. The city gets credit for a fine job of preserving the area even as they allowed a multitude of shopping malls to sprawl into the suburbs and farmland. To get there take either Figueroa Street from Promenade Park or California Street from just north of the pier. Features clustered next to the business district in a park setting include the San Buenaventura Mission, the Ortega Adobe, Ventura County Museum of History and Art, Figueroa Plaza and the Albinger Archaeological Museum, with the archeological dig of the original mission featured. Main Street maintains a '30s and '40s downtown character. Although many of the old businesses have been lost to shopping malls, the antique stores, thrift stores, restaurants, coffee houses and bookstores do a lively business. A block off Main at the end of California Street, the remarkable neo-Classic Ventura County Courthouse sits as a monument to the power of authority.

Distance: 7¾ miles (12.5 kilometers).

Open to: Hikers, bicyclists.

Surface: Road shoulder, beach.

Access point: Faria Beach County Park.

How to get there: Take the Sea Cliff exit off Highway 101 and go south 2.5 miles on Old Pacific Coast Highway to Faria Beach County Park.

Other access: Anywhere along Old Pacific Coast Highway, Emma Wood State Beach, Ventura County Fairgrounds, Promenade Park.

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain/loss: Negligible.

Cautions: The Ventura River mouth may be impassable during storms and/or high tides.

Further information: Faria Beach County Park (805)654-3951, Emma Wood State Beach (805)648-4807, Promenade and Seaside Wilderness parks (805)652-4550.

Facilities: Faria Beach and Emma Wood State Beach have restrooms, picnic tables and water. Promenade Park has restrooms and picnic tables. lt and Ventura City Pier have all the city amenities nearby.

Campgrounds: Faria Beach County Park has 42 campsites and hot showers. Emma Wood State Beach has hike and bike sites plus four group sites at the south end plus 61 sites run by the county at the north end.

Lodging: Ventura has abundant lodging including the moderate Vagabond Inn and the deluxe Holiday Inn right near the pier at section's end.

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