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What’s open and closed this week? Trails, parks, beaches in Southern California

Los Angeles County has closed all of its beaches
A lone athlete practices push-ups along the Los Angeles River in North Atwater on Wednesday. The recently completed North Atwater Multimodal Bridge, also known as La Kretz Bridge, rises in the background. The path along the river remains open to walkers and cyclists.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Southern Californians can still walk, hike and bike outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, but public agencies are urging residents to stay home as much as possible.

The National Park Service on Tuesday said it would begin weekend closures of all Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area trails, trailheads, restrooms, overlooks and pullouts in Ventura County.

That move 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. (Details below.)

Also Tuesday, the NPS closed Joshua Tree National Park to all visitors, taking the same step Yosemite National Park took on March 20.

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On Monday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti suspended operations of the city’s farmers markets until better social-distancing measures are in place (about two-dozen were re-approved by Wednesday night) and closed the Silver Lake Meadow, a grassy space next to the Silver Lake Reservoir.

The same day, Pasadena city officials closed the Rose Bowl Loop, a popular 3.1-mile-long walking path around the famed stadium.

Meanwhile, throughout the region, neighborhood sidewalks, streets and stairwells are seeing many walkers now that L.A. County has closed beaches, and local, state and federal agencies have closed or severely limited access to parks, trails and forests.

L.A. County officials on Friday announced the closure of beaches, piers, beach bike paths, beach access points, public trails and trailheads through April 19. That order covers beaches in every coastal city and unincorporated area of the county. The city of Los Angeles closed its hiking trails as well.

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“Stay at home,” Garcetti said Monday. “This is not a game where the city closes one venue and people chase and try to find one that’s open. This is a moment to stay. Go for a walk around the block if you need to get out.”

In Griffith Park, authorities have closed all facilities, all trails and some access roads.

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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 social distance of at least 6 feet from others.

Los Angeles city parks and beaches

Since Friday, the city Recreation and Parks Department has been enforcing a broad range of restrictions. Among them:

All public hiking trails and trailheads in the city of Los Angeles have been closed since Friday. 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).

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All recreation centers, aquatic facilities, golf courses, skate parts, tennis courts, playgrounds, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts are also closed, as are other “indoor and outdoor sport amenities.”

Griffith Park closures include the observatory, Travel Town, train rides, the pony rides and the merry-go-round. (Equestrian-only trails remain open with social distancing required.)

Elsewhere, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro remains closed, as is the Sherman Oaks Castle, and the EXPO Center in Exposition Park.

In addition, all recreation and cultural programming, indoor and outdoor sports leagues, aquatics classes, instructional courses and group sessions are canceled, and all recreational group sports or activities are prohibited.

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Still, many grassy areas remain open. A drive through Griffith and Elysian parks Monday afternoon revealed dozens of families and individual walkers and joggers, most of them taking care to keep their distance.

“I usually go to the beach,” said Zac Holtzman, eagerly dragging a metal-detector over the turf at Elysian Park. “When you’re out here, you have to dig up endless aluminum pull-tabs.”

Holtzman’s day job is as guitarist for the band Dengue Fever, but the outbreak has shut down the recording of their new album, he said, so he’s mostly at home with his family -- and the occasional bout of detecting.

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Zac Holtzman and his metal detector work the turf of Elysian Park, Los Angeles.
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Santa Monica beaches

The city of Santa Monica‘s beaches, beach bike path and Ocean Front Walk were closed Friday as part of the county-wide order to shut down beaches. The city’s Palisades Park, which overlooks the beach and pier, is also closed.

Los Angeles County trails and beaches

It was midday Friday when L.A. County officials announced the closure of trails, trailheads, beaches and other public lands. All of the county’s park play and sports amenities, including golf courses, are also closed. 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.”

The county on March 23 announced temporary closure of the county’s multi-use trail system, a network of more than 220 miles that includes the Eaton Canyon Trail (famed for its waterfall and often gridlocked on weekends); 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 in the San Gabriel mountains; and dozens of other popular routes.

Los Angeles County beach cities and Catalina Island

In Hermosa Beach, the pier, Strand and beach itself are closed as part of the county-wide beach closure that was announced Friday.

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Even as people are told to stay home, many in Southern California seek out public spaces — beaches, hiking trails, sidewalks, parks — for relief.

The same is true in Redondo Beach, where city officials also closed the Esplanade area; Veteran’s 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.

Meanwhile, Catalina Island “is closed to visitors,” the Catalina Chamber of Commerce website said on Friday afternoon.

The Catalina Express, which normally runs boats to the island’s Avalon and Two Harbors landings from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, has cut its service back 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 Friday that the boat has suspended service until further notice.

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The Catalina Island Conservancy has closed its visitor facilities,services and trails.

State parks in L.A. County

On Sunday, state officials closed vehicle access to the entire state park system -- 280 parks. Among the Los Angeles County: Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook; El Matador State Beach; Leo Carrillo State Park; Malibu Creek State Park; Malibu Lagoon State Beach; Point Dume State Beach; Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach; Topanga State Park; Will Rogers State Historic Park; and Los Angeles State Historic Park downtown.

Santa Monica Mountains

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s move to close Ventura County trails on weekends takes effect Friday, April 3. Those hiking, biking and equestrian trails and other areas will close at 2 p.m. Friday and reopen at 6 a.m. Monday “until further notice,” an NPS release said.

As part of the 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. In all, the recreation area includes about 150,000 acres of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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Meanwhile the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority has 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.

“This is a total heartbreaker for us,” said authority spokesperson Dash Stolarz on March 23. “We would not do this if it were not necessary.”

Orange County Beaches and Parks

Orange County on Marhc 25 closed parking lots at all county beaches, regional and wilderness parks; 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. Passive walk-through pedestrian, cycling, and equestrian activity is permitted.

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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.

Among individual Orange County cities:

Seal Beach has closed all of its park amenities, including restrooms, playgrounds, hiking trails, athletic fields, tennis courts, volleyball courts, basketball courts, handball courts, dog park, picnic areas and community centers. But green space within its parks remains accessible, with social distancing required.

Huntington Beach’s pier and beach parking lots have been closed since at least March 25, but on Monday morning the beach itself remained open.

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Newport Beach on March 25 closed its beachfront parking lots and piers, and closed its Oceanfront Boardwalk on the Balboa Peninsula over the March 28-29 weekend, but planned to reopen it Monday morning. On Friday, the city also changed the Balboa Island Bayfront Walkway into a “one-way” sidewalk, to better allow walkers to maintain at least six feet of distance from each other. As a further measure to cut down congestion on the Island, city city closed southbound Jamboree Road through-lane at Bayside Drive.

Laguna Beach has closed all city beaches, all basketball, volleyball and tennis courts; all playgrounds; its community pool; parking lots at Aliso Beach; and three beach-adjacent city parks: Main Beach city park, Heisler city park, and Treasure Island city park.
Dana Point

San Clemente has closed its city-owned beach parking lots and municipal pier, but beaches remained open Monday.

After worrisome crowds on the weekened of March 21-22, “this weekend was significantly better,” said Samantha Wylie, recreation manager for the city of San Clemente.

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“What’s busier than the beaches is the San Clemente Beach Coastal Trail,” Wylie added. She said city staffers are urging people on the 2.3-mile-long trail to keep their distance.

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A young couple affixed a mask on the face of a bear statue at the Fern Dell entrance to Griffith Park. The couple, who declined to give their names, shot a few photos, removed the mask and left.

Throughout Los Angeles County

The “Safer at Home” order from Los Angeles County Public Health officials, issued March 21, prohibits all public and private group events and gatherings through April 19. It also says that individuals and families are not prohibited from “hiking, walking, biking or shopping at [e]ssential [b]usinesses,” so long as they keep their distance from others.
The order also notes that if local entities (like 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 (though farmers markets and produce stand are still permitted).

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San Diego County parks and beaches

The City of San Diego closed all of its beaches, parks and trails on March 24.

The Port of San Diego, which controls 34 miles of the county’s coastline, including many parks, on March 24 closed all of its parks, beaches, parking lots, piers and boat launches.

As of Thursday, the Union-Tribune reported that Coronado and Oceanside beaches were still open, though Oceanside had closed its pier. The City of Imperial Beach has closed its beaches and pier.

Most San Diego County parks and preserves remained open, but Annie’s Canyon Trail at San Elijo Lagoon and Clemmens Lane are closed, as are many facilities and amenities. County officials gave the details in a March 25 update.

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National Forests in Southern California

The U.S. Forest Service on Thursday closed campgrounds, picnic areas, bathrooms and other developed recreation sites in its California forests through April 30, but left most trailheads alone, saying that “the general [f]orest area including the extensive trail system will remain open.”

As for the status of parking areas at trailheads in Southern California’s four national forests, “that is a question with each individual forest,” said Jonathan Groveman, Pacific Southwest Region media officers for the Forest Service. “We pass that decision-making down to the individual forest level.”

At the San Bernardino National Forest, whose 680,000 acres includes four mountain ranges in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, a spokesman said parking areas at trailheads will remain open.

In Angeles National Forest, which covers more than 650,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains, authorities said Friday that they would keep open parking lots at trailheads (at least those trail heads without a gate) for the weekend.

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“We’d like people to spread out a little bit more to trails they wouldn’t be familiar with,” public information officer Nathan Judy said Friday.

Hikers, runners and other recreational users are asked to stay away from high-use areas, such as Mt. Baldy and Icehouse Canyon above Claremont; Echo Mountain and Millard Canyon in Altadena; and the Redbox trail head on the Angeles Crest Highway near Mt. Wilson. In these areas, crowds may gather, making it more difficult for people to maintain social distancing.

The road to the popular Chantry Flat hiking area above Sierra Madre and the Switzer Falls parking area are closed to vehicles. Other pullouts and parking lots are open.

Of course, hikers should practice social distancing, sticking to wide fire roads instead of single-track trails that are too narrow, Judy said.

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He said the forest -- the closest national forest to L.A. -- expects Angelenos to turn out in numbers this weekend. “I think it’s inescapable, given the size of the population we serve,” Judy said.

Where are the less-visited areas? The park, which covers a thousand square mile area, extends to a segment west of Lancaster. You could take a drive along California Highway 138, north of Santa Clarita, one of the lesser visited areas.The forest will re-evaluate its policy based on where people go this weekend and how crowded some sites become.

In Los Padres National Forest, which includes roughly 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.

“We may need to reassess if the public doesn’t follow the ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ principles and create unhealthy conditions, especially with regard to trash,” Madsen said in an email.

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In Cleveland National Forest, which reaches into San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties, the list of sites closed through April 30 is long.

In the forest’s Trabuco ranger district, a spokesperson said 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.

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The Trails Cafe in the Fern Dell area of Griffith Park, Friday evening.

Throughout California

Newsom’s order said: “Everyone in California is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary healthcare, or go to an essential job.”

But the governor also said: “We’re going to keep the grocery stores open. ... We’re going to make sure that you’re getting critical medical supplies. You can still take your kids outside, practicing common sense and social distancing. You can still walk your dog.”

On March 18, California’s state parks system closed all campgrounds. Yosemite National Park closed on March 20 and many national parks have dramatically cut back access, closing parking areas and roads.


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