As far as beaches in Southern California go, San Clemente will always have a special place in my heart. I learned to surf and caught my first wave on the beach to the right of the pier, and I spent many a college day pursuing the next wave and eating at Pedro’s Tacos. Unbeknownst to me (thanks SocalHiker), there is a beautiful path that walks from the Metrolink parking area all the way down to Calafia Park and stays right next to the coast and the Surfliner Train the whole way. With my wife training for a half marathon, we thought it would be the perfect place to put in a long run for her and a leisurely bike ride for myself, so we set out for the trail.
- The trail is free, but parking varies at the different start locations
- 2.6 miles each way
- At the Metrolink, it was a quarter for 15 minutes I believe, and I have been told this is the cheapest place to park (as of 2015)
- Food and restrooms along the trail
- During the summer biking is not allowed near the San Clemente Pier due to the number of people there
San Clemente Beach Trail
After parking and paying our fees, we set out on the trail. I loved the nice map they provide at the start of the trail as it shows you the mileage markers as they related to areas that you pass so you can make the trail as short or as long as you want.
The trail itself stays relatively flat the whole way, which makes it perfect for all levels of athletic abilities to be able to take in the nice scenery. The trail is relatively wide for the first 3/4ths of a mile as it passes over vernal pools, staircases to the road ahead, and entrances to the beach.
From there, it goes up to an elevated bridge where you are not able to ride your bike, and you must walk it in order to avoid being fined $100.
This is also a great place to watch the trains go by. I, for one, have always been fascinated with trains, and they are one of my favorite things to photograph as you can see from these posts, so I waited on the bridge to get a picture of one going by below.
After exiting the bridge, I was back on my bike for about a quarter of a mile until the path went into a very narrow area near the San Clemente Pier. While you can bike here, it is pretty hard to get by all the people, so I opted to walk it to the pier and over, which is a designated no bike zone as well.
If you haven’t been down here, the pier has a great place to eat lunch. I would suggest checking it out on the way back as that would give you a decent amount of walking then a nice lunch before heading back to your car.
There are also shops here as well and a parking lot (that fills fast) where you can start the trail.
The trail then passes the bridge by T Street, which is one of the best places for boogie boarding before crossing back over the train tracks.
The last portion is a beautiful dirt path that has wildflowers in the spring and a beautiful set of cliffs at the end.
When you reach Calafia Park, you will see the end of the San Clemente Beach Trail sign, letting you know you have completed half of your journey and can head back.
All in all, I loved this trail, and it is a perfect example of the beauty of Southern California. If you are doing this in the summer, make sure to bring a lot of water as there is no shade, but during the winter and spring, it can be an excellent way to break a sweat with a beautiful background. Check out the rest of the pictures below and let me know if you have been there in the comments.