The San Clemente Beach Trail starting at North Beach meets all the requirements of reader requests!
Every time I go to North Beach, I have the it-just-doesn’t-get-better-than-this feeling (except when it’s crowded).
San Clemente Beach Trail
The San Clemente Beach Trail runs from North Beach down to Calafia Beach Park. The easiest places to park to access the trail are:
- North Beach Metrolink lot,
- by Linda Lane Park,
- by the San Clemente Pier,
- or down at Calafia Beach Park.
Really anywhere in between works, but those I’ve listed above are the easiest.
Trail Starting at North Beach
With the kids, I liked to go from North Beach because there are swings and restrooms. It got the wiggles out before we continued and gave them a reward when we were done.
However, I do have to say that in recent years, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness has increased particularly at this end of the trail. I’m a bit more hesitant to use this restroom building when I’m here alone with the kids.
The walk is breathtaking! Beyond beautiful views of the ocean, surfers, and sometimes dolphins in the waves. Keep your eyes out for sparrows, hummingbirds, finches, squirrels and lizards.
The train tracks go right by the path. Amtrak and Metrolink used to come blasting by, but recently rail travel has been halted between Laguna Niguel and Oceanside. So, sadly, no trains.
You can walk to Linda Lane Park from here (just cut up one of the paths).
You can walk to a family-friendly restaurant on Del Mar (the main street to the pier in San Clemente).
Use the North Beach Trail to explore the San Clemente Pier.
Directions to the San Clemente Beach Trail (North Beach Trail Head): Take the Avenida Pico exit off Interstate 5. Turn towards the beach. Go across Pacific Coast Highway and take your first right onto Calle Deshecha past Ole Hanson Beach Club. The San Clemente Metrolink and beach parking lot is ahead of you on the left. Turn into the lot and find the BEACH PARKING right below the Beach Club. You’ll need to pay at the machines. MAP TO NORTH BEACH PLAYGROUND AND PARKING FOR SAN CLEMENTE BEACH TRAIL
The San Clemente Beach Trail is definitely stroller friendly. It’s not paved, but the dirt is packed decomposed granite.
Trail Starting at Linda Lane Park
You can park at the Linda Lane Park and walk to the pier to enjoy the restaurants nearby and the swings on the beach and then walk back for a last play on the playground.
Trail Starting at Calafia Beach Park
Calafia Beach Park at San Clemente State Beach is at the south end of the trail (at the opposite end from North Beach). You can walk all the way to Calafia from North Beach. It would be a 4 mile round-trip. Or start at Calafia and head north towards the pier.
My husband and I tried this in 2022. We started at Calafia and walked all the way to North Beach and then turned around and came back. That was a fun outing, too.
We have a state parks annual pass so our parking was free.
However, with kids, it’s quite far to get to the pier (1.3 miles from Calafia to Pier whereas it’s 1.0 miles from North Beach to the Pier).
You must pay for parking at the pay stations. Make note of your spot # and enter it into the yellow machine. The lot by the pier has the same system. Calafia has meters and your State Park parking pass works there, too. Click here for more info on parking in San Clemente.
This was more for when the trains were running, but you never know when they will start up again. Just be cautious of the train tracks with little ones. Trains used to come by often! Only cross at marked crossings.
Restrooms available at North Beach, near the pier, T-Street or Califia. No restrooms in between.
Bring water and/or snacks.
Remember, the beach can be breezy or foggy even when it’s hot inland. Dress in layers or bring jackets for the kids. I’ve also hiked here on a sunny day when it was VERY hot. So you can get all kinds of temps.
Dogs allowed on leash on the trail. Dogs not allowed on the beach.
Originally posted in May 2010.