As long as Southern Californians remain close to home and wear masks outdoors, they can still exercise outdoors at many parks and beaches without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order. But as the fight against the pandemic evolves and summer nears, the rules are rapidly changing, especially at beaches.
On Tuesday, Laguna Beach beaches opened after weeks of closure, but they will be open only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays, for active use only, under a deal reached between local and state officials. They will remain closed on weekends.
In San Clemente too beaches reopened after an agreement between state and local leaders. In that case, the city’s beaches will be open daily for active use only (no fishing or sunbathing). The city’s pier reopened Tuesday with social distancing requirements. Beach restrooms and parking remain closed.
On Tuesday morning, state officials released letters authorizing Dana Point, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach officials to open their beaches. The letters, sent by Mark S. Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; and Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the state Natural Resources Agency, say the cities have drafted beach management plans that conform with state rules, and the state urges local officials that “vigilance will be necessary” to keep citizens safe.
Meanwhile in the city of Los Angeles, officials said plans are in the works to completely close L.A.’s Griffith Park and other city parks on Mother’s Day (Sunday), in the same way those parks were closed on Easter to discourage crowds from gathering. No official announcement has been made, but those parks are likely to shut at sunset Saturday and reopen Monday morning.
Conflicts between cautious state officials and restless local leaders came to a head Thursday, when Newsom overruled local Orange County officials to close beaches in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach after they drew substantial weekend crowds. Most Orange County beaches remain closed under the governor’s action.
L.A. County’s beaches are still closed through May 15 under the county’s Safer at Home order, and local, state and federal agencies throughout the region are severely limiting access to hundreds of beaches, parks, trails and forests.
Ventura and San Diego counties have been gradually opening their beaches. In both of those counties, as in Orange County, officials have closed beach-adjacent parking lots, hoping to encourage people to stay within their own walking neighborhoods.
This list is designed to help readers keep track of beach restrictions.
Here’s an update on what’s happening where. If you do go outside for a walk, remember these tips for keeping safe. Local and state officials stress the need to take greater care in maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others.
Los Angeles city parks, beaches and markets
City Recreation and Parks officials say most most park areas “remain open for walking and running.” But they are enforcing a range of restrictions. Among them: All public hiking trails and trailheads in the city of Los Angeles have been closed since March 27.
Also closed are all public beaches, public beach parking lots, beach bathrooms, piers, beach access points and the Venice Boardwalk and Ocean Front Walk (with limited access to essential businesses).
All recreation centers, aquatic facilities, golf courses, skate parks, tennis courts, playgrounds, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts are also closed, as are other “indoor and outdoor sport amenities.”
In Griffith Park, authorities have closed all facilities and trails, including the Observatory, Travel Town, train rides, the pony rides, the merry-go-round and some roads. But the bicycle rental operation has been open.
Elsewhere, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro remains closed, as is the Sherman Oaks Castle, the Expo Center in Exposition Park; and the Silver Lake Meadow. Since April 11, walkers and joggers have been required to travel counterclockwise on the 2.2-mile loop trail around the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs.
About 24 farmers markets remain open in the city, including the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, after the city tightened safety and social-distancing requirements in early April.
Los Angeles County trails and beaches
Since March 27, L.A. County officials have enforced the closure of trails, trailheads, beaches and other public lands. (This list details closures.) All of the county’s park play and sports amenities, including golf courses, are also closed.
Los Angeles County’s beaches, piers, beach bike paths, beach access points, public trails, trailheads and tennis courts are also closed, under an order that covers beaches in every coastal city and unincorporated area of the county.
Parks officials noted on their website that “you can still enjoy time outdoors at your local park for passive use, such as walking, jogging, or leisure time outdoors for individuals or families. Social distancing is still required, and group gatherings are prohibited by the health order.”
Since March 23, the county has forbidden use of its multiuse trail system, a network of more than 220 miles that includes popular Eaton Canyon Trail; all interior trails at Vasquez Rocks; all interior trails at Placerita Canyon; the Loop Trail, Devil’s Chair and South Fork Trail at Devil’s Punchbowl; the San Dimas Nature Trail; the Schabarum-Skyline Trail; and dozens of other popular routes.
Los Angeles County beach cities and Catalina Island
• In Santa Monica, city beaches, the beach bike path and Ocean Front Walk closed March 27 as part of the countywide order to shut down beaches. The city’s Palisades Park, which overlooks the beach and pier, is also closed.
• In Hermosa Beach, the pier, Strand and beach itself are closed as part of the countywide beach closure.
• In Redondo Beach the pier, Strand and beach also are closed. City officials closed the Esplanade area; Veterans Park and nearby parking areas; all public walkways, stairways, ramps and paths to the beach; and a coastal bluff trail between Knob Hill Avenue and George Freeth Way.
• On Catalina Island, the Catalina Chamber of Commerce is urging non-residents to stay away. The Catalina Express, which usually runs boats to the island’s Avalon and Two Harbors landings from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, has cut back its service to two round trips a day between Long Beach and Avalon. At the Catalina Flyer, which normally offers one departure daily from Newport Beach to Avalon, a phone recording warned that the boat has suspended service until further notice. The Catalina Island Conservancy has closed its visitor facilities, services and trails.
State parks in Southern California
On March 18, state parks officials closed all state campgrounds. On March 29, they tightened restrictions further, closing vehicle access to the entire state park system — 280 parks, including off-road vehicle areas.
Since then, the state has fully closed dozens of parks, banning pedestrians as well as vehicles. Among them: The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve; more than a dozen state parks and beaches in L.A. County; San Clemente State Beach in Orange County; seven state beaches in San Diego County; and four state beaches and parks in Ventura County.
But more recently, some parks have quietly reopened, while still keeping their roadways and parking lots closed to discourage visitors from outside the immediate area. On Monday morning, Carlsbad, South Carlsbad and Torrey Pines state beaches reopened that way, with visitors limited to active recreation and no group gatherings.
At Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in the Baldwin Hills area of L.A., officials said in a statement that the park is closed to vehicular access but “remains open for locals who wish to walk, hike and bike (in parks with bike trails) in the park, provided they practice social/physical distancing of 6 feet or more. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.”
San Gabriel Valley
In the first week of April, Pasadena city officials closed the Rose Bowl Loop, a popular 3.1-mile- walking path around the famed stadium.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino is closed through at least May 15.
Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is closed until further notice. The L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia is open; reservations are required to prevent crowding.
Santa Monica Mountains
The National Park Service has imposed weekend closures on all Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area trails, trailheads, restrooms, overlooks and pullouts in Ventura County. Authorities said those areas will remain open on weekdays, when crowds are thinner.
Those weekend closures begin at 2 p.m. Fridays and reopen at 6 a.m. Mondays “until further notice,” an NPS release said.
That policy covers Rancho Sierra Vista (including the Wendy Trailhead); Cheeseboro Canyon Trailhead; the Deer Creek area; and all trails within Circle X, which includes Sandstone Creek, Mishe Mokwa, the Grotto Trail, the trails and overlooks along Yerba Buena Road and the Backbone Trail along the spine of the Santa Monicas.
As part of the earlier L.A. County-wide closure of hiking trails, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area had already shut down all of its trails and restrooms in L.A. County.
Also, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority on March 23 closed all of its parklands, trail and facilities — close to 75,000 acres of parkland, including all parks owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
The authority’s busiest parks, now closed, include Wilacre Park in Studio City; Temescal Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades; Franklin Canyon Park off Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills; Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon, the Santa Clarita Valley; all the overlooks on Mulholland Drive; Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve at the west end of Victory Boulevard; and Escondido Canyon Park in Malibu.
• Ventura County has allowed the opening of county-managed beaches, golf courses and bike shops among various modifications to its Stay Well at Home order. That order, which continues to close campgrounds, gyms, swimming pools and many other facilities, is effective through May 15.
•The city of Ventura on April 20 reopened its beaches, pier, promenade and parks, subject to requirements that people keep their distance and don’t linger.
• The city of Port Hueneme, experimenting with a “soft reopening,” has reopened its beach (and a parking lot) to walking, running, biking and solo surfing and paddleboarding, but said it would discourage sunbathing or any “stationary presence” on the sand. Its pier, restrooms, playground and street parking remain closed.
On April 25 and 26, many of the county’s shores, especially in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, were so crowded that photographs alarmed many people. The governor was one of them, and he briefly shut all of Orange County’s beaches.
Since then, state officials have negotiated terms for reopening several cities’ beaches in the county. This list covers the beaches city by city.
Parking lots at all county beaches, regional and wilderness parks remain closed as well. So are parking spaces at all trailheads; parking lots at Irvine Lake; parking along Black Star Canyon Road; pedestrian access points at Thousand Steps, Table Rock, West, Camel Point and Treasure Island beaches; restrooms; playgrounds; exercise equipment; shelters and trailheads. Pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians were permitted.
Orange County also banned vehicular traffic to Carbon Canyon, Clark, Craig, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Mason, Mile Square, Tri-City and Yorba regional parks. Pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians were permitted.
Orange County’s Supervisors have cleared the way for public and private golf courses to open.
Throughout Los Angeles County
The Safer at Home order from Los Angeles County Public Health officials, issued March 21 and updated April 10, prohibits all public and private group events and gatherings through May 15. It also says that individuals and families are not prohibited from “hiking, walking, biking or shopping at [e]ssential [b]usinesses,” as long as they keep their distance from others.
The order also notes that if local entities (such as municipal governments) choose to impose stricter limits, the county order does not supersede them.
Los Angeles County has closed all indoor and outdoor playgrounds, along with indoor shopping centers and all swap meets and flea markets.
• San Bernardino County on April 25 reopened county parks, lakes, rivers and recreation areas. “Private and city-owned parks, trails, lakes and golf courses also opened on a limited basis,” the L.A. Times Luke Money reports. Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and Mojave River Forks Regional Park are still closed.
• Riverside County leaders on April 20 allowed golf courses to reopen, with restrictions. Hiking, bikes and horseback-riding on trails and in parks are also permitted under the county’s health order.
San Diego County parks and beaches
San Diego County Board of Supervisors reopened county-run beaches there April 27 to swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddle-boarding but not group activities, sunbathing or boating.
City-by-city details are covered in this list.
Most of San Diego County’s parks and preserves have remained open for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians, but their parking lots and many facilities and amenities are closed.
National forests in Southern California
The U.S. Forest Service has closed campgrounds, picnic areas, bathrooms and other developed recreation sites in its California forests through May 15, leaving Southern California’s four forests — Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino — to make their own decisions on trail access and parking.
• In the Angeles National Forest, authorities on April 3 closed 23 well-used San Gabriel mountain trails, four popular trailheads and 19 roads.
This map shows the affected areas. The closures include the Millard Canyon above Altadena, San Antonio Falls, Icehouse Canyon and North Devil’s Backbone trailheads.
The forest order shuts routes to Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe, such as the Sam Merrill Trail, above Altadena, as well as others leading to Mt. Wilson, San Gabriel Peak, the Rim Trail and other routes in the San Gabriel Mountains.
• In the San Bernardino National Forest, whose 680,000 acres include four mountain ranges in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, a spokesman said trails, trailheads, staging areas that function as trailheads and parking areas at trailheads remain open. Hikers should practice social distancing, sticking to wide fire roads instead of single-track trails that are too narrow, the spokesman said.
• In Los Padres National Forest, which includes about 1.95 million acres reaching north from Ventura County into Central California, spokesman Andrew Madsen said trailhead parking and trails remain open, as do dispersed camp sites in the backcountry.
• In Cleveland National Forest, which reaches into San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties, the list of sites closed includes all trails and picnic areas where an Adventure Pass is usually required.
In the forest’s Trabuco ranger district, closures include: El Cariso north/south picnic area; Hot Springs trailhead; San Juan loop trailhead; Tenaja trailhead; Trabuco creek picnic area; Wildomar staging area; Maple Springs day-use area.
In the forest’s Descanso Ranger District, closures include Agua Dulce; Bear Valley OHV (off-highway vehicle) area; and Corral Canyon.
In the forest’s Palomar Ranger District, closures include Crestline; Henshaw scenic vista; Inaja Memorial; Kica Mik Overlook; Palomar Mountain Interpretive Station; San Luis Rey Picnic Area; Fry Creek Trailhead; Observatory Trailhead; and Barker Valley Trailhead. The popular Cedar Creek Falls and Three Sisters Falls trails have been closed since March 21.
National parks in California
The National Park Service closed Yosemite National Park on March 20; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on March 25; Joshua Tree National Park on March 31; and Death Valley National Park (except for California 190 and Daylight Pass) on April 4.
The Eastern Sierra
Charlton H. Bonham, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife director, has postponed the start of trout season in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties. Once set for April 25, the season is now set to open May 31.