Summary: Ever want to put your finger right on an earthquake fault? This walk takes you to the Cristianitos Fault which runs too close to the adjacent San Onofre Nuclear Power Generating Station. Geologists say that the fault has not moved for more than 125,000 years which makes it unlikely to topple SC Edison's twin domes into the sea.
Trail 1 takes you from a parking lot where you are drenched by the noise from I-5 to water-bleached silence. The upper cliffs along this walk consist of alluvium (read "mud") which means you should not attempt to climb them or walk near them.
The scenery changes after every storm, so a visit to San Onofre's seaside badlands can be a fresh experience every time. Avoid the temptation to explore side canyons: falling debris can injure or kill you.
Do not enter Echo Arch Campground.
Trailhead: From Interstate 5, take the Basilone Road exit (three miles south of San Clemente). Head west on Barsilone and then south on Old Pacific Coast Highway. The entrance station is past the San Onofre Nuclear Power Generating Plant.
There's a $5 day use fee.
Trail 1 begins just past the first restroom/shower facility. The trail follows the beach. Observe trail closures and stay away from cliff tops: you are standing on mud not stone. (Lat:33.3616 Lon:-117.5396)
Trail Guides for San Onofre Beach Walk:
Coast Walks 150 Adventures Along the California Coast
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
Geology Underfoot In Southern California
by Paul P. Sharp and Allen F. Glazner (Mountain Press)
Afoot & Afield in Orange County
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: San Onofre State Beach, (949)492-4872 or (949)492-0802
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joel Sax, who has posted 51 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Viewer on 3/12/2013
Just want to let everyone know, San Onofre Bluffs or Trails is a $15.00 Day Use entrance fee (not $5.00 as listed). The hours are 6AM to Sunset. And yes, it's beautiful and a step back in time. Shirley, State Parks
Reviewed by Kurt on 3/18/2008
This spot is real fun for mountain biking. There are quite a few trails to ride on along the bluffs. At the south end of the park there is a bike trail that goes to oceanside with no cars! Imagine that!
Reviewed by DW on 7/13/2007
There is no loop trail, but you can hike a loop by taking a trail down to the beach (i use trail #1) and then hike along the beach until you see another numbered trail going up the cliff ( I take trail #6). You then have to follow the/or near the road until you return to your car. The beach hike is well worth it and the views from the edge of the cliff are terrifc.
Reviewed by Jamie on 3/4/2007
My experience with this "hike" was that it was not a hike at all. It was more like a trip to the beach. My wife and I took "Trail 1" down to the beach. Trail 1 was merely a path from the parking lot to the beach, along, and then down, a set of BEAUTIFUL cliffs. The entire walk is 1/4 mile a most. We did enjoy our visit. Not for the hike, but for the beautiful scenery. And, of course, a trip to the beach is ALWAYS pleasant. Besides the marker for Trail 1, we were unable to find (on foot) the markers for any other trail, and our $10 didn't include any literature from the park. Maybe the other trails are cool, but I doubt it. Nice place though.
Reviewed by RATFINK on 9/3/2006
I went with my friend and we had a good time, we couldn't find the loop either, but there were 6 different trails to take so we went on 2 of them. It was pretty but nothing breath taking. We did not see any snakes (Thank God) we will go back sometime.
Reviewed by KC on 8/24/2006
Big disappointment after reading the description. Couldn't make out any kind of loop trail. Not really sure what was supposed to be so great about this place. We didn't even see any three eyed fish or other biological freaks from the nuclear plant. Asked a ranger/lifeguard for advice. He had never heard of anyone hiking a loop here. Although this webpage says to avoid Echo Arch Campground, the ranger suggested we check it out. Entrance fee is now $10.
Reviewed by Tim on 5/31/2006
As a San Clemente resident, I hike here often. Park a few miles south of the nuclear power plant in order to distance yourself from it's gargantuan rudeness. a short walk brings you to cliffs that are unapparent until you are on top of them. As soon as you drop over the edge, away from the hum of the I 5 you enter a rare, spectacular coastal setting. Backed by 150 foot high cliffs that are broken frequently by gorgeous canyons, you are put squarely into a California that for the most part no longer exists. I've seen bobcats, owls,all kinds of snakes and ground rodents and watch out for those pesky stingrays if you shuffle into the water! It's a long way back to the Park Entrance station for treatment with HOT WATER...trust me ,I know!!
Reviewed by Willa on 1/5/2006
I have been on this hike many times. I have resigned not to take my younger son, because the beach... once you get there is mainly very rocky. However, the sites on the trail are very nice and coupled with going around the time of sunset it is an awesome hike.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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