Trestles Beach is a collection of surf breaks located at the northern border of San Onofre State Beach. Saying that this beach is world famous is an understatement! In fact, the Hurley Pro is held here!
I went over this area a bit in a previous post on San Onofre State Beach, but today I would like to concentrate on the Beach Trail leading to Trestles Beach.
The Beach Trail going east also becomes the Panhe Nature trail, which I have also written about if you are interested.
Recently, I have been teaching myself about all of the Southern California native plant species, so today I would like to point out a few to you if you do not mind. It helps me!
Once we arrive at Trestles, I will also be showcasing the San Mateo Creek/ Lagoon which ends at the beach as well as checking out the surfers and the dunes.
Ok, let’s go! There is so much to see!
#Click on any photo to see a larger version.
Get Off On Cristiantos Road
First off, there is a Trestles Parking Area right next to a Carl’s Jr where you can pay by the hour. It is also important to mention, that when available, there is parking off of the street as well.
Once you have parked, cross the street where you see an opening in a fence and follow the path west.
The Beach Trail to Trestles
Here we come upon a group of workers clearing out the trash and old vegetation; compliments of the Califonia Fire Department.
Looking southeast, into the San Mateo Canyon, we have an excellent example of Southern California’s unique ecosystems of coyote bush scrub, willow woodland, and sycamore/cottonwood woodland taking advantage of the San Mateo Creek water.
There is a natural underground water system within this canyon which may explain why there is a significant amount of trees present.
The Tree Tobacco Plant is a non-native species from South America. Native Americans would smoke the plant along with other tobacco species plants, and it was used in hunting rituals. It was also utilized as an anti-inflammatory agent; helping with cuts, sores, bruises, sore throats, and swollen glands.
We are now entering the Trestles Wetlands Natural Preserve. There are no paths within the Preserve except around its outer edges. We will be able to see part of the wetlands once we arrive at the San Mateo Lagoon.
Natural Reserve, Natural Preserve? What Is The Difference?
While researching my website, I have encountered many beaches which are considered a Natural Reserve as well as some stating to be a Natural Preserve. So what is the difference?
Well, both are similar in that a piece of land is put aside to protect flora and fauna as well as geological formations. The only difference between the two is that in a Natural Preserve, the public is not allowed to enter. On the other hand, a Natural Reserve provides for limited human contact.
So, this is the reason for the fence that you see while walking on the Beach Trail.
I hope that this has cleared up any confusion.
Let’s get back on the trail!
Look closely at the photo above, and you can see a few red leaves which are poison oak.
Do you also see the chain linked fence where the overgrowth of the plants is pushing the fence forward? I love how all the vegetation here is so old!
Extra Things To Look For on the Trestles Beach Trail
When looking down while walking, you can not help but see an array of graffiti on the pathway.
The denseness of the vegetation makes for excellent animal habitat.
Here is a reminder to be extra cautious in the water due to underwater obstructions as well as a that there are great white sharks in the water offshore here!
If you look closely, you will see that word Trestles is spelled out on the concrete pillars.
San Mateo Creek at Trestles
Now we have finally come to the end of the San Mateo Creek, formally called the San Mateo Lagoon which is 6 acres in size.
The lagoon is closed off to any ocean interaction by a sand berm, but all of that changes when there is a powerful storm. There is an underground water supply as well that feeds this lagoon.
As we turn away from the lagoon, let us now go and check the beach out!
In this direction, we come upon another non-native species, the Hottentot-fig from South Africa.
Initially, this species was introduced in the late 1800s as a bluff stabilizer, but the fact is, it is a destabilizer which also competes with native species.
We come now to the back of the San Mateo Creek/ Lagoon to give you an idea of how it is cut off from the Pacific Ocean.
I would love to come here during a storm to see how it looks when the Ocean breaches the sand barrier, that would indeed be a sight to behold!
Let’s now turn around and check out the Ocean!
Lowers at Trestles
As stated previously, Trestles Beach is a collection of surf breaks, named by where its position is related to the Trestles train track. For instance, where the Beach Trail spits you out; so to speak, is considered Uppers Beach, followed by( going South) Lowers, Middles and finally Church (private military beach.) Cotton’s is a little bit north at San Clemente State Beach in Orange County.
Fun Fact- There is a spot at Trestles were you can indeed have one foot in San Diego County and the other in Orange County! I wonder if there is a marker there? I will have to look next time using my GPS.
Let’s now go left and see what we see.
I was excited to see this huge tree trunk and how it was buried in the sand.
You see, my husband and I came here back in December, and I took many photos of it.
I love how the comparison of the two, showcases the ever-changing dynamics of the sand on the beach. Look how much of it was buried in five months.
Here you can see all of the rocks on the beach, exposed by a low tide. These rocks are found all the way offshore and are one of the reasons why this beach has fantastic surf breaks.
Ironically, the day that we visited Trestles, a decent swell was coming in. I wish I had a better camera, but here are a few shots.
We are now coming to the border of San Diego County and Orange County, with San Clemente State Beach in the background.
Scattered on the shoreline, we encountered many California black sea hares. Do not worry though, once the tide comes back in they will be back in the water.
Trestles Beach as you see is in a very remote location. Lifeguards are only present on the weekends but do patrol via trucks throughout the week as well.
The dunes at Trestles has always been a favorite spot of mine. It is not too often that you see so much vegetation right on the beach. It fascinates me to no end, on how these plants can survive in the sand!
We are now walking back to where we first started.
So what did you think? Which part did you enjoy the most? All in all, this is an amazingly easy trail to walk.
Trestles Beach Trail Connects to the Panhe Nature Trail
In closing, I highly recommend the Beach Trail to Trestles for the whole family. You experience such a variety of landscapes all while hearing the sweet sound of the Pacific Ocean. And remember, if you continue on the Beach Trail east, it turns into the Panhe Nature Trail and connects you to the San Mateo Campground. I highly recommend checking it out!
Until next time.
I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!