As mentioned in previous posts, South Orange County is a place that I and my family tend to frequent. With my in-laws living in a spacious home across the tracks from the ocean, we often travel down to San Clemente for holidays and random long weekends. When there, my favorite downtime activity is to take a trail walk or run along the picturesque San Clemente Beach Trail. Whether I head north of the pier to North Beach or south to Calafia and below, I enjoy exploring the paths with expansive views of the California coast.
The cliffs overlooking the beach are shale and other sedimentary components that are easily eroded. Indeed, homeowners who live on or near the bluffs have the worry of cliff erosion, and this is in addition to the erosive forces that impact the beaches below. For this cranky camper, however, being able to run the trail and see some of this up close provided an opportunity to do some lesson planning for my sixth grade earth science class with original photos, all while getting some much-needed exercise.
The San Clemente Beach Trail is a 2.3 mile rail-to-trail that runs from North Beach down to the San Clemente State Beach. The path shares its corridor with an active rail line that serves Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route from Los Angeles to San Diego, as well as Metrolink commuter and freight traffic. The trail is mostly flat except for a quarter mile stretch of bridge that runs about ten feet off the ground and is super fun to run or ride a bike on. The whole trail is quite popular year-round, but gets especially crowded between the pier and T-street. My family doesn’t usually accompany me ‘all the way’ up to North Beach, but they do enjoy walking to the pier. On one trip, even Owen got to take a trail walk down to the state beach, where on the bluff overlooking the beach, there is also a campground that hosts 160 campsites and many good memories
While I prefer the trail, the kids like to just walk the 100 feet or so to the bluffs right by their grandparents’ house. They love to climb up and watch the trains or take cute Instagram photos for their feeds. Besides the view and Instagram photos, I think sometimes they just like to climb things, as evidenced by their penchant for climbing rocks at various national parks. And it is an activity that is not as messy or involved as heading to the beach while offering up a change of scene from surfing Grammy’s satellite tv.
Regardless of how you prefer to recreate, from the level shore to the cliffs overlooking the ocean, San Clemente and its beachy trails are a great place to spend a weekend on the sunny So Cal shores. And after your outdoor adventure, you can head down to historic Avenida Del Mar for some great food and cute boutique shopping. Happy trails!