The Bolsa Chica State Beach bike path is an almost 3-mile portion of the 10-mile bike trail which Google Maps calls “Huntington Beach Bike Trail” and what Visit Huntington Beach calls the “Ocean Strand” in Huntington Beach.
Whatever you call it, I’m talking about the short stretch that spans from an over-ocean bridge just past Seapoint Street on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and goes up the coast all the way to Warner Avenue.
How to Park at Bolsa Chica State Beach
It’s a little tricky to figure out the best way to get to the beach from I-405 because of how the interstate runs diagonal to Huntington Beach’s grid system streets. So what would seem the most direct might actually take the longest. I find that taking the Warner exit and following it directly to Pacific Coast Highway OR taking Warner and then turning left onto Goldenwest to PCH are both options. Or if you want to just cruise up PCH from the Huntington Beach Pier, then that works too.
The entrance to Bolsa Chica State Beach is located in the MIDDLE of the park. There is a stoplight that marks the turn. It’s basically where the tall gray cinderblock park headquarters and visitor center are located.
If you have already purchased your California State Parks Annual Pass ($195/year), then hang it from your mirror and wait to be waved in by the attendant. Our pass had just expired so I bought mine right there at the booth with my credit card and ID – no forms to fill out. Otherwise, you’ll be paying the day use fee of $15/day.
I recommend parking at either of the far ends of the path if you want to bike the whole stretch and return the same way you came. Or you can park near the visitor center and go out and back halfway from there. 3 miles sounds far, but I was riding really slow — mostly gliding — and it only took me about 15 minutes to go one way end-to-end.
You cannot park along PCH or in the surrounding free lots which serve the Bolsa Chica Wetlands across PCH. The only other nearby parking is down between Seapoint Street and Goldenwest. It is a City of Huntington Beach metered lot (see bottom left of this map) where you’ll pay $1.50/hr between 8am and 10pm.
Stops Along the Bolsa Chica State Beach Bike Path
Since this is a State Beach, you’ll find many amenities spaced along the wide path.
- A wide paved path (watch for pedestrians!)
- Beachside outdoor showers for rinsing off after a dip in the ocean
- Restroom buildings — in addition to restrooms near each restaurant
- LARGE trash dumpsters
- Fire pits for a bonfire at sunset
- One spot with reservable shelters near a basketball court on the parking lot side of the path
- No tents allowed at the campground – it’s mostly for RVs
Restaurants appear to open around 10am – and according to this OC Register article the menus are still being finalized. All restaurants offered adult beverages, as well as sodas, lemonade, iced tea, drip coffee, hot tea, and hot cocoa.
Finally, although it’s very sunny in my photos – there’s a potential for marine layer clouds or fog at this location. So be prepared for cool and breezy.
Pacific Kitchen boasts “Huntington Beach’s Best Breakfast Burrito.” At least that’s what the side of the building says! I love breakfast burritos and have to say this one is worth having again. The bacon was flavorful and extra crispy. I believe the potatoes were French fries and the cheese was a light drizzle of cheese sauce. The tortilla was fresh and I liked the kick from the salsa I added as I ate.
Bolsa Chica State Beach Campground, followed by Beach City Provisions
This restaurant is directly past the camping area and has a small provisions store open on the weekends, as well as a restaurant window and area to dine outside.
Bolsa Chica Visitor Center
There’s a small visitor center near the big cinder block tower and park rangers at the desk to answer your questions. There’s one room of exhibits where children are encouraged to press buttons, open drawers, and then follow the ramp up to look through telescopes to see birds at the ecological reserve across the street. This was a really cool perspective on the wetlands from a distance
SeaSalt Beachside Burgers
Apparently, the Bolsa Special is the menu item to get at SeaSalt Beachside Burgers.
SeaLegs at the Beach
For me, this location looked more geared towards the adult crowd with lounges, curtains fluttering in the breeze, and even swings! Lots of seating arrangements meant for socializing. It still felt fun and casual, but chairs directly in the sand with a stage hinting at lively nighttime concerts and events.
- To see an official map of the park and bike trail, go to the California State Parks web page for Bolsa Chica State Beach and click on the brochures icon.
- Learn about SeaLegs and sign up for the SeaLegs newsletter to get info on the restaurants
- Read more about the beach concessions and concert venue in this OC Register article
- Expect huge crowds on holidays and during the summer
- If you decide to come for a beach day, read my What to Bring to the Beach post (it even has a printable checklist!)
Nearby Nature Experiences:
- Bolsa Chica Wetlands are across the street from Bolsa Chica State Beach. You will need to drive to get there because it’s not safe to cross by foot from the beach.
Originally published in June 2017.
Disclosure: I did NOT receive any compensation for this post. I independently noticed the newly branded restaurants on a recent birdwatching trip to the wetlands. I planned to come back and explore the restaurants by bike. Only after stumbling upon the above-linked OC Register article did I figure out this was the project of a friend-of-a-friend. But I was going to write about the bike path anyways! It just provided more information to share with my regular readers.