As long as Southern Californians remain close to home and wear masks outdoors, they can still exercise outdoors in many parks and on trails without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order. But as the fight against the pandemic evolves and the weather gets warmer, local and state authorities increasingly have clashed over beach restrictions.
Those conflicts came to a head Thursday, when Newsom overruled Orange County officials to close that area’s local and state beaches, some of which drew crowds last weekend.
“My job as governor is to keep you safe,” Newsom said. Given the facts, he said, “I have to make this adjustment. I hope it’s a very short-term adjustment.”
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. Yet many public agencies have been easing restrictions, including Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties.
Newsom’s move stands as a rebuke to the Newport Beach City Council, which voted Tuesday to keep its beaches open; and Laguna Beach’s City Council, which voted Tuesday to reopen that city’s beaches from 6 -10 a.m. weekdays.
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.
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. 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 L.A. County
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.
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.
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.
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 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 Saturday and Sunday, many of the county’s shores, especially Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, were so crowded that many people were alarmed, including the governor.
With his action Thursday, Newsom set in motion the “hard close” of Orange County’s local and state beaches.
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.
Among individual Orange County coastal cities, north to south:
• Seal Beach had already closed its beach, pier and many park amenities. But green space within its parks remains accessible; social distancing is required.
• Huntington Beach’s pier and beach parking lots have been closed since late March, followed by closure of street parking along Pacific Coast Highway April 16 and closure of Huntington Harbor beaches on April 17. But some golf courses have reopened in recent days.
• Newport Beach, which had kept beaches open until Thursday, on March 25 closed its beachfront parking lots and piers, and later added its Oceanfront Boardwalk on the Balboa Peninsula and the Balboa Island Bayfront Walkway to the forbidden list.
• In Laguna Beach, closures cover 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.
• In Dana Point, city, county and state beach and harbor public parking lots are closed, as is Dana Cove Beach and many coast-adjacent streets.
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.
• In San Bernardino County, the Mt. Baldy Resort reopened for skiers on Wednesday, saying its new limits would allow for proper social distancing.
• Also, 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 last week cleared the way golf courses to reopen.
San Diego County parks and beaches
Under a vote by San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors on Friday, that county’s ocean reopened Monday morning to swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddle-boarding but not group activities, sunbathing or boating.
The cities of San Diego, Coronado and Oceanside have taken similar actions, as has the Port of San Diego, which controls 34 miles of the county’s waterfront. Most beach parking lots and boardwalks remain closed, as do state beaches.
In Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach, beaches remained closed Monday until further notice.
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 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.
Tthe Bureau of Land Management has left open much of Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. A BLM spokeswoman estimated 9,000 visitors brought dune buggies and dirt bikes there during the week after Easter, but attendance is expected to dwindle as temperatures climb.
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.