Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Oceano Dunes is also a wonderful place to look for birds, especially at Oso Flaco Lake. Many kinds of shorebirds can be seen on the beach, while other small birds, such as Audubon warblers, long-billed marsh wrens, and American kestrels, are often sighted among the dunes. Between March 1 and September 31, mesh fencing is erected to protect the endangered California least tern and the threatened snowy plover. A paved picnic area dotted with palm trees has tables overlooking the beach.
Trailhead: Grover Beach parking lot off Grand Avenue
Length: 1-2 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle
Terrain: HardThe 25-foot approach to the boardwalk is firmly packed dirt that may become muddy in wet weather. The dirt trail to the eucalyptus grove is uneven and sandy in places, but was easy to navigate in my motorized wheelchair.
Obstacles: On the return trip, manual wheelchair riders may have trouble negotiating the 1-1/2 inch transition from the hard-packed dirt path back onto the boardwalk.
DescriptionNear the paved picnic area off the Grover Beach parking lot, a 25-foot boardwalk has a viewing platform that overlooks the beach. A longer trail (nearly one mile), mostly boardwalk, begins near the restroom and travels through the dunes to Pismo State Beach North Campground. Along this route are several hilly sections with viewing platforms overlooking the dunes and ocean. Iceplant has invaded some of the dunes, but many native plants grow here too. A golf course and the town of Oceano are visible to the east for part of the route.
After about three-quarters of a mile you come to an accessible path to the Pismo State Beach North Beach campground; just beyond is a bridge leading to a eucalyptus grove where thousands of monarch butterflies roost from November through February (Pismo Beach Monarch Grove). This path is sandy and uneven in places; I had no problems in a motorized wheelchair, but it may be challenging to some in manual wheelchairs. Picnic tables on a moderately firm surface are scattered throughout the butterfly grove. Retrace your steps to the main trail and continue several hundred feet, skirting the campground. The trail here is sheltered bushes that screen it from a nearby road, and birds are plentiful. Even though this section of trail has a significant crown, the level area atop it is approximately three feet wide. You can turn around at the main entrance, where the trail ends. I didn't thoroughly explore the campground, but other trails within it were sandy, so you probably have to return the way you came.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Beach Wheelchair: YesAvailable at the Grand Avenue and Pier Avenue beach entrance stations, or contact the Oceano Dunes Ranger Station, (805) 473-7220
Accessible Parking: YesAt foot of Grand Avenue and foot of Pier Avenue. Free parking at Grover Beach lot, just before the Grand Avenue park entrance.
Accessible Restroom: Limited AccessibilityLeft side of the park's entrance station at the foot of Grand Avenue
Accessible Restroom: YesAdjacent to picnic tables in Grover Beach parking lot
Features icon key
- Beach Wheelchairs Available
- wildlife viewing
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, October 7, 2007
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