Huntington Beach—nicknamed “Surf City” and the subject of Jan and Dean's 1963 hit song of that name—hosts numerous international surfing competitions that draw thousands every year. It is the northerly continuation of neighboring Huntington State Beach, and a multiuse trail runs the length of both beaches. There are food concessions, outdoor showers, picnic tables, and volleyball nets; at various points a concrete path extends onto the beach. At the northern end is Dog Beach, where dogs of all kinds romp, dig, and play off-leash. The 1,850-foot-long pier at Main Street (it was rebuilt in 1992 with a smooth concrete surface) offers great views of the palm-lined beach and surfers in action––you can try to spot them from a lowered telescope. Oil derricks to the north mar this otherwise scenic spot. At the end of the pier is a popular diner; restaurants at the base of the pier offer fancier fare. Directly inland from the pier, along Main Street, you'll find many outdoor dining facilities and retail shops.
Huntington Beach Multiuse Trail
Trailhead: Accessible entrances are at the state beach parking lots, the pier, 11th and 9th Sts., and Dog Beach.
This trail travels mile after mile of broad sandy beach, with several opportunities to exit to dine and shop (Main Street by the pier offers the most options). At the quieter southern end of the state beach, the trail is level with the beach and you can’t always see the ocean because the sand is so deep. A good place to catch a beach volleyball match while you picnic is near the Newland Street entrance. The trail is set below the parking lots just before the RV camping lot, and getting back to street level can be confusing until you reach the decorative switchback ramp at the lifeguard building. Embedded in the embankment along the ramp is a whimsical mosaic portraying a variety of sea life; I picked out starfish, a stingray, a mermaid, and crabs. After nearly 3 miles you reach Huntington Pier, located directly above you. Take the elevator by Duke's restaurant to reach the pier and plaza, where you can pick up maps at a small kiosk, walk out on the pier, or cross the Pacific Coast Highway to the shops along Main Street.
In less than a third of a mile, by lifeguard tower 10, a concrete path extends onto the beach. Soon after you climb a short, moderately steep incline and then stroll along the bluffs the rest of the way to Bolsa Chica State Beach; ocean views here are stellar and unobstructed. From this stretch of trail, stairs provide the only access to the beach, except for a few locations near Dog Beach where a steep concrete ramp—intended for emergency vehicles—may be possible to navigate with assistance. Dogs romping in the sand are a giveaway that you've reached Dog Beach. From the end of Dog Beach it’s another .9 miles to Bolsa Chica State Beach.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Available on a first-come, first-served basis at Zack’s Rentals (on the bike path north of the pier); (714) 536-8083.
Several lots are along Pacific Coast Hwy.: at Dog Beach, adjacent to Huntington Beach Pier, at 6th St., and at Magnolia St. A large parking structure is on the east side of Main St. between Walnut and Olive. List of beach parking lots.
In restricted areas Allowed in parking lots and on the multiuse trail; must be on a leash no longer than six feet. Not permitted on the beach except at Dog Beach (Pacific Coast Hwy. between Seapoint St. and 21st St.).
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