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Doheny State Park

Doheny State Beach was California’s first state beach and has been voted the “best state campsite” beach in Orange County for 18 consecutive years. Set on 62 acres of scenic oceanfront, the beach is divided by San Juan Creek. To the north is a day-use area with many features, including a 5-acre landscaped picnic area, horseshoe pits, and beach volleyball courts. To the south is a campground and a second day-use area with fewer amenities. On any given day the waters may be busy with people surf fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and windsurfing. A concrete path extends onto the beach to an enticing spot under a palapa (an open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof). From here a beach mat extends another 20 feet on the sand. Farther north, two more paths with benches extend onto the beach.

When you tire of the beach, you can stroll the meandering paved paths along the beach; hike a section of the San Juan Creek levee trail, which travels 5 miles inland to San Juan Capistrano; or roll along Del Obispo Street to nearby Dana Point Harbor.

Visitor center: The small center, located next to the entry kiosk, has several aquariums, natural habitat displays, and a simulated tidepool. Behind it is a compact butterfly garden with accessible pathways. The center offers an active year-round educational program.

Trail/Pathway Details

San Juan Creek Trail

Trailhead: Behind main lifeguard tower

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

May be a challenge for manual wheelchair riders who don't have good upper body strength.

Terrain: Hard


This 4-mile levee trail runs along the western bank of San Juan Creek to its confluence with Trabuco Creek in San Juan Capistrano. You’ll pass several parks, baseball fields, a playground, and horse stables. You may see sandpipers, marbled godwits, avocets, mallards, black-necked stilts, and pelicans. There are four underpasses that may be steep for those in manual wheelchairs. Starting on the beach at the main lifeguard tower, within a few feet you travel under Pacific Coast Highway, then past the wastewater treatment plant and tiny Del Obisbo Park. The next park you reach is Creekside, where you can enjoy a picnic or, if you have little ones in tow, check out the playground.

After crossing Trabuco Creek Bridge (it’s a bumpy ride across the uneven wood planks), you can go right to continue on the San Juan Creek Trail or take the left-hand fork to follow theTrabuco Creek Trail inland for a mile. Continuing on San Juan Creek Trail, you pass under Interstate 5. In about half a mile you can exit the trail to reach charming Old Town San Juan Capistrano, which has nice restaurants and shops. Continuing along the trail, when you reach Calle Arroyo, bear right and follow alongside the road past Cook Park. Cross La Novia Avenue, turn right, and within a hundred feet you will see where the trail turns inland. It continues for about another mile through wooded Cook Park.

Accessibility Details

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

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Available at the ranger station/lifeguard tower on a first-come, first-served basis, but you can call ahead to reserve: (949) 496-6162.

Accessible Parking: Yes

Located throughout the park and campground; drifting sand on the spaces at the beachfront campsites may be problematic for transfers in and out of a car.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

Located throughout the day-use area and campgrounds.

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

At the north and south day-use areas, along the promenade, and on the beach next to the ranger station/lifeguard tower. A table in the butterfly garden is shaded.
Accessible palapa on the beach
Accessible palapa on the beach (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

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: 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr.
Phone: (949) 496-6172
Hours: Public day use and San Juan Creek Trail: Daily, 6 am-10 pm.
Fees: Parking
Dogs: In restricted areas
Must be on a leash no longer than six feet and under supervision at all times. Permitted in the campground and day-use area; not allowed on the beach. When camping, dogs must be contained in a vehicle or tent at night.
Public Transportation: Orange County Transit Authority
Useful Links: Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association
Reviewed by Eric St. Amant, July 15, 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