increase font use small font sizeuse medium font sizeuse large font size

Bolsa Chica State Beach

Before State Parks took over this beach in 1961 and cleaned it up, it was referred to as Tin Can Beach because of all the debris strewn around. Bolsa Chica State Beach offers three miles of wide sandy beach sandwiched between Seal Beach to the north and Huntington Beach to the south. A 3-mile-long asphalt multiuse path connects with the Santa Ana River Trail to the southeast and to Huntington Beach. The calm waters, caused by a shallow bottom shelf, attract families and beginning surfers; the beach is also popular with surf fishers. If you come at low tide you will likely see many shorebirds feeding in the intertidal zone, especially in spring and autumn.

Amenities include seasonal snack bars, fire pits in the sand (including some on pavement), a basketball court, picnic tables, two concrete paths that extend onto the beach, and an RV campground with several sites that are designated accessible. Across the Pacific Coast Highway is Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a great place to bird watch. To safely walk to it from the beach, cross at Warner Avenue, where there is a light.

Visitor center: The sparse visitor center housed in the park headquarters has a few interpretive panels about critters found in the surf and the history and plants of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, across Pacific Coast Highway from the park’s entrance (the reserve has its own small interpretive center). It's worth a stop here to see the skull of a gray whale found on shore in 1983 and to look through the lowered viewing telescopes; one is aimed at the reserve and one faces the beach.

Trail/Pathway Details

Bolsa Chica Multiuse Trail

Trailhead: From any of the beach parking lots and at the foot of Warner Ave.

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Hard


This utilitarian multiuse trail extends the length of the beach (2.9 miles), from Warner Avenue south to a tidal inlet channel, then continues another 3 miles to Huntington Beach. While it is far from the surf zone and you often can't see the ocean, you will pass two concrete paths between towers 18 and 21 that extend a few hundred yards toward the shore. Along much of way there is plastic fencing that has very large openings with level entries that allow you to get onto the beach with a beach chair. At the southernmost end you cross a bridge over the tidal inlet channel and can continue to Huntington City and State Beaches.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Available at the visitor center 9 am-4 pm; after hours, inquire at entry kiosk. (714) 377-5691.

Accessible Parking: Yes

All lots along the park's roadway have accessible spaces. Accessible RV campsite parking is in the south lot. An hourly lot is planned at the Warner Street entrance.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

At the visitor center and scattered throughout

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

Scattered throughout, at various parking areas and by concession stands.
Accessible path onto beach
Accessible path onto beach (Dave Efferson)

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • bicycling
  • camping
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: CA State Parks
Address: 17851 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Phone: (714) 846-3460 (recording), (714) 377-5691
Hours: Visitor center: Daily, 9 am-4 pm. Beach: 6 am-10 pm (entry gates close at 9 pm).
Fees: Parking
Dogs: In restricted areas
Allowed on leash on the trail and in parking lots but not on the beach.
Public Transportation: Orange County Transit Authority
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, October 7, 2013
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing