Spot Check: Photo Tour of Trestles
Guide to Trestles from Cottons to Church
From Surfline's Blair Mathieson: "At the edge of Orange County's suburbia nightmare lies the Trestles experience -- one-and-a-half miles of God's country. No metered parking. No Ruby's Diner at the end of the pier. No blackballs, closeouts, volleyball nets or "Baywatch" sets -- simply put, Trestles is one of those destinations that just about any devoted surfer finds hard to resist. Surfers have to carry their boards down a hill, under a train track and across the sand to get to the break, which offers the feeling of being away from suburban life. The state beach also has a popular camping spot." See the full break description on Surfline
For the most part, this is still the way Trestles and the San Mateo Creek Natural Preserve exist today, but Trestles is quickly being encroached on by developement and the overcrowded California coastline. If you can find a free parking spot along the Christianitos exit, you're lucky otherwise you'll be paying the $15 daily parking fee in the now pay to park lot.
$15 at the State Parks parking lot off the Christianitos exit. Or buy an annual pass from the California State Parks
After you find a parking spot, you now have about a 20-30 minute walk down to the break of your choice. The walk is a nice way to connect with nature, you'll see all sorts of people on the trail from school kids taking a botany class, to picnicers, to die hard trestles locals with sidecar surfboard mounted 10 speeds, who have dialed in the exact round trip time needed to be at work at 9am sharp.
Once you get to the first Trestles welcome sign halfway down the path, you have a choice. You can take the Old PCH highway down to Lowers, Churches or Middles OR you can take a right and head over to Uppers, Barb Wires or Cottons.
Cottons: Long Sloping left, Bring your Longboard, Shortboard or fun fishy shortboard. More mellow crowd, but still plenty of people to battle with. Beginner to Expert.
Uppers: Long Sloping right, bring your shortboard, longboard or fish. Intermediate to Expert.
Lowers: World-class high-performance break. Solid left and solid, longer right over cobblestone bottom. Best in summer and early fall. Experts only and locals are fierce.
Middles: Sloping right, some lefts. Bring your longboard, mid lenth shortboard. Beginner to Intermediate.
Church: Long sloping right. Bring your longboard or shortboard with some float. Beginner to intermediate.
Best Swell Direction:
South to SouthWest swells are usually the best for these breaks. On a West and Northwest Swell Uppers or Church can be fun.
Hazards & Things to look out for:
Rocks, Urchins, Sharp barnacles on the rocks. Sharks, more so recently with the colder than normal water temperatures. Mosquitos near the San Mateo Creek. Snakes, and other wildlife on the trail. Don't surf beyond your ability! Longboards are a big no-no at lowers almost every day if you take too many.
A fight to “Save Trestles” started about four years ago, when surfers caught wind of a plan calling for a nearby toll road. Surfers say the development will ruin a world-class break, and lawsuits have been filed. More than 80,000 bumper stickers have been handed out in the fight. The Transportation Corridor Agencies has voted to approve the 16-mile, $875 million extension of the Foothill (241) Toll Road, which would connect Rancho Santa Margarita to the San Diego (I-5) Freeway south of San Clemente. Opponents say this will destroy one of Southern California’s last pristine coastal watersheds and the surf at Trestles, an area with 12 surf breaks for every kind of surfer. The TCA says the road will not change the surf or ruin the watershed. Activists have been to Sacramento several times, and even the governor was given a tour and a surfboard with 2,000 surfer signatures. The TCA recently said construction likely won’t start until 2011, two-and-a-half years later than originally planned.
About San Clemente:
San Clemente is Orange County’s southernmost city and includes five miles of beaches, three of which are open to the public.
San Clemente City Beach stretches two miles from Avenida Pico south to Avenida Calafia. San Clemente State Beach stretches south about one mile from Avenida Calafia. There’s also a small county-owned beach at Camino Capistrano and Pacific Coast Highway.
Other surf spots - listed from South to North - include Trestles (technically just south of the city line), North Gate, State Park, Riviera, Lost Winds, Lasuen, The Hole, Beach House, T-Street, The Pier, 204, North Beach, and Poche.
Grab a Drink:
Stop a the OC Tavern to grab a quick drink and watch a game on their flatscreens or head over to Del Mar Street Or walk down to the San Clemente Pier
Head over to Del Mar Street Or walk down to the San Clemente Pier
Places to Eat near Trestles:
Groundswell Surf Camp
Location: San Onofre Bluffs, trail 3.5
Open to: ages 7 to up
Cost: $895 for overnight camp, $495 for day camp
Length: 5 days
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dates of operation: 6/18 to 9/7
Also available: private lessons, corporate events
Summer Soul Surf Camp
Location: San Onofre Surf Beach
Open to: Ages 9 to 18 for overnight camp, 9 to adult for day camp
Cost: $795 for overnight camp, $595 for day camp
Length: Five days
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dates of operation: 6/18 to 9/28
Private lessons available? Private lessons, corporate parties, mini-groms day camp
Endless Summer Surf Camp
Location: San Onofre
Open to: Ages 10 to adult
Cost: $845 for overnight camp, $445 for day camp
Length: Five days
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dates of operation: 6/4 to 9/14
Also available: private lessons, progressive surf coaching
Billabong Aloha Beach Camp
Location: T-Street beach
Open to: Ages 7 to 15
Cost: $250 for half day, $475 for full day
Length: 5 days
Hours: 9 a.m. to noon or 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for half days, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for full days
Dates of operation: 7/9 to 8/17
Also available: private lessons, group lessons
Stay Overnight Near Trestles:
You can camp at San Clemente State Beach or at San Onofre State Beach. Find a book a reservation HERE
Travelodge San Clemente Beach HotelHampton Inn and Suites
2481 South El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
More OC Beach Guides: