Parks, Beaches & Trails in San Clemente, CA


San Clemente is a city that has something for the whole family. Visitors who are more adventurous can enjoy biking and hiking on the numerous trails in the area, many of which run along the mountain ridge and coastline and offer exceptional views. If you're looking for a more relaxing experience, check out one of the many parks that are located throughout the city. Some of these overlook the ocean, and the cool ocean breeze makes them perfect for enjoying picnics. Don't forget to check out the challenging and fun golf courses in the city as well!


 

Bonita Canyon Park

1304 Calle Valle

This park is mainly a stomping ground for the Boys and Girls Club kids. After school it is often crowded. There is a bathroom and soda machine available at this park. This is one of several "west of the 5" parks that the city seems to have a difficult time maintaining.

 

Calafia Park

240 Ave. Calafia

A park with a beautiful ocean view and off the beaten track. It has beach access, a large grassy area, benches, restroom and a shower (but no playground). A great place for an ocean-view picnic.

 

Foster Ranch Community Park (aka "Pirate Park")

3207 Camino Vera Cruz

Also known as “Pirate Park” to many adoring younger fans. A great park with Pirate ships to climb on, jeeps to ride in, alligators to walk on, and bridges to cross. There are picnic tables, shade, bathrooms and plenty of parking.

 

Liberty Park (Talega)

390 Calle Saluda

A newer park that has all play structures covered with shade. Fun for all ages. Shaded picnic tables, bathrooms, 2 tennis courts, basketball, soccer and baseball fields. They even have a zip line.

 

O'Neill Museum

31831 Los Rios Street

Located in San Juan Capistrano's Los Rios Historic District. This rustic but genteel wooden structure was one of the town's first homes and provides today's visitors with a charming glimpse of life one hundred years ago. School groups and organizations are invited to arrange guided tours by calling the Historic Society office at (949) 493-8444, Museum hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

 

Max Berg Plaza

1100 Calle Puente

A great neighborhood park. Plenty of room for picnics, parties and playground. Kept nice and clean thanks to the neighborhood families who like to spend time there.

 

Marblehead

2400 Via Turqueza

Always clean and never crowded. A great park with two different play structures. One for older kids and one for toddlers. Bathroom, tennis courts, basketball courts…

 

Foster Ridgeline Trail

The Forster Ranch Ridgeline trial follows the crest of the hills on the South and East of the Forster Ranch development for a total length of 3.2 miles. Staying true to the ridgeline means this trail has a number of steep sections so be prepared. It's all natural surface is surrounded mostly by open space but there is fencing on about 1/3 of the trail. Since this ridgeline trail splits the center of San Clemente it provides outstanding views looking down San Clemente's backcountry developments and the ocean beyond. The East side of the trail is adjacent to the Mission Viejo land conservancy with its native coastal chaparral wild land. Of special interest are three designated view points with monuments, each uniquely designed to enhance the trail experience. In the future this trail will extend Northward and connect with the San Juan Regional trail complex which ties together most of the South County Ridgelines.

 

Christianitos Trail

The Christianitos Regional Trail hugs the back edge of San Clemente on the border of Camp Pendleton and the Mission Viejo Conservancy and offers some of the most serious hiking in Coastal Orange County. Depending on where you start it is either all up hill or all downhill as is winds its way behind the Talega development up to the water tower. This regional trail is a graded path open to hikers, bikers and horses. The area to the North and East is true California wilderness with views into down into secluded canyons and stands of native oak. Although the trail seems to end at the water tower it actually continues on behind, up a steep switch back and onto a narrow ridge with a breath taking views of the Christianitos watershed and the steep scarfs of Talega canyon. The improved trail ends here but there are a number of single tracks that mark the future path of the regional trail.

 

Prima Deschecha Regional

Prima is a new work in progress and is 60% complete. As a regional trail it will provide hike, bike and equestrian access from the San Diego County border at San Onofre State Park through San Clemente and into the San Juan trail system. Cutting a North-South path through the back county it offers a wide variety of views from open native chaparral to skirting commercial and residential developments. Pay careful attention to the portion near the Pico crossing where it loops back around the commercial complex, daycare center and catch basin. It's easy to get off the trail and end up on the power line roads. To cross the road you head back up the hill on Pico, across the road and back down again on the other side and behind the commercial complex on the corner of La Pata and Pico. Check out the golf course in this area. The sand traps are pure white crushed marble.

Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail

Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail is a three and a half mile path for pedestrians, bicycles and dogs on leash. It has wide angle views of the coastline from Dana Point Headlands to the San Diego County beaches, along with broad vistas of inland hills, valleys and mountains in three counties. Trail surface is mostly asphalt, with some natural soil portions; it has several steep grades, but the majority is easy, long grades. There are six trail entrances: three are walk-in only and three entrances have parking nearby.

Casper's Wilderness Park

33401 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano
(949) 728-0235 or (949) 831-2174

This is Orange County's largest park, and in some ways the most rugged. Nature is definitely untamed in this 7,600 acre expanse. You must be 18 or over to hike the wilderness trails, and you cannot travel the trails by yourself. There are many wonderful sights in this huge park. Bird watchers love this area. Foxes, bobcats, coyotes, deer and rabbits are plentiful. Weekend interpretive programs will enhance your enjoyment of the park's geology, wildlife, and Native American history. Thirty miles of trails give visitors an opportunity to really appreciate Orange County's natural beauty before the arrival of settlers. Here you will see chaparral, coastal live oak, cactus, lemonade berry, lupines and sycamores. Bell Canyon and its trail offer the best tour of the park. Juaneno Indians once pounded oak acorns into ground meal in this canyon. The longest trail, Oso, is more than six miles in one direction, and leads to a 1,470 foot summit. On a clear day you can spy Los Angeles County, San Clemente Island and Santa Catalina Island from here. There is limited overnight camping space. You can also camp here overnight with your horse as long as you have a trailer.

San Clemente Beach Trail

A coastal pedestrian trail from North Beach to Calafia. Trail surface will be decomposed granite with organic stabilizer. Native plantings with drought tolerant accents will line the path. See more photos and details at the San Clemente City's website.

San Clemente State Beach

225 Avenida Calafia, San Clemente, 492-3156

A kiosk is located at the front entrance. San Clemente State Beach is located along the beautiful coast near the south end of the community of San Clemente. Established in 1934, the 10-acre campground features a popular one-mile beachfront. The state beach offers a variety of interpretive programs during the summer months. Trails lead to a mile of beach that is popular with surfers, body surfers, swimmers, and divers. Beach activities, from sunbathing to surfing, are also available year-round. The San Clemente State Beach entrance is reached off of the I-5, going west on Avenida Calafia.

The family campground sits high atop the bluffs. Each of the 160 sites has a fire ring, picnic table and shade ramada, with water nearby. The RV area in the family campground accommodates 72 recreational vehicles, and has water, electrical and sewage hookups. A Group camping area can handle 50 people and 20 vehicles, trailers included. Each campground has hot showers, flush toilets and a sink area. A picnic area delivers sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean from bluffs 150 feet above the beach. Two group picnic areas are also available. The visitor center is adjacent to the 200-space parking area.

San Onofre State Beach

The beach is located ½ mile south of the nuclear plant on the Old 101 Highway. 492-0802 / 492-4872. San Onofre State Beach features 3.5-miles of sandy beaches with six access trails cut into the bluff above. The campground is along Old Highway 101 adjacent to the sandstone bluffs. The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers.

Ole Hansen Beach

The restored “Plunge,” as it was known in the beginning was dedicated in 1928, and was a gift from Ole Hanson, the founder of San Clemente. During the 20's & 30's it was to be considered the finest municipal swimming pool in Southern California. It was used for training by Johnny Weissmuller in the early 30's for the 1930 Olympics. The beautiful grounds overlook the Pacific and it is nearby the train station at the north end of town.