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As of May 14: What’s open and closed this busy week: Beaches, parks and trails in Southern California

This was the view north from Venice Beach toward Santa Monica on Wednesday morning, as L.A. County reopened its beaches after a closure of several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Southern Californians are still under orders to remain close to home and cover their face outdoors, but the reopening of Los Angeles city and county trails last Saturday — followed by L.A. County beaches Wednesday and Angeles National Forest trails on Saturday — means new room to move for millions of people on thousands of acres of public land.

Beaches are also open (with many restrictions) in Orange, Ventura, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties. L.A. County, which had kept beaches shut while suffering more pandemic deaths than any other area in the state, joined them Wednesday morning.

That reopening comes with many strings attached, including closed parking lots, piers and boardwalks, and those details can vary by city within the county. County public health officials said they expect many restrictions will stay in place over the next three months.

Still, there are some happy surfers on the coast. Christopher Hawley, 46, musician and surfing instructor who lives in Venice, was suited up and carrying his board toward the water by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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Hawley said he counts the beach reopening as a big step forward – “as long as people understand what needs to be done. It’s pretty simple, right?”

As local, state and federal agencies loosen some reins while holding tight to others, the rules are changing almost daily.

•The Rose Bowl Loop, a highly popular 3.1-mile walking and running venue in Pasadena, reopened Wednesday morning after a closure of several weeks.

•The Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles on Saturday will reopen 23 popular trails, four trail heads and 19 roads in the San Gabriel Mountains, with social distancing requirements. Forest officials will also begin gradually opening campgrounds, picnic areas and other “developed recreation” sites that have been off-limits since early April.

“Within the next week we’ll have some of the campgrounds open,” said spokesman Nathan Judy. “Within the next month, hopefully a majority of them.” He said campers would be able to check the forest’s website beginning Friday for updates on the status of individual campgrounds and picnic areas.

Judy suggested that hikers bring a little more water than usual (because some water sources may not be operating immediately) and make a little more noise, so that other hikers can keep appropriate distance.

Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is scheduled to reopen Saturday, May 16.

• Los Angeles County officials, who reopened trails and golf courses (with safety measures) on Saturday morning, on Wednesday said they would allow reopening of tennis and pickleball courts, archery and shooting ranges, equestrian centers and community gardens.

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• Los Angeles city trails, trailhead parks and golf courses also reopened Saturday morning, with face coverings required. (One exception: the perilously popular Runyon Canyon Park, which will remain closed.)

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti cautioned that people shouldn’t congregate in groups larger than a single household and that the usual other pandemic requirements remain in place.

“You have to maintain a physical distance. You have to wear a face covering,” Garcetti said. “This is not some sort of green light to slack off.”

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For the moment, L.A. County’s pandemic restrictions are largely shaped by the county’s Safer at Home order.

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.

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On the first day that L.A. County beaches reopened after closing because of coronavirus, a steady stream of government vehicles helped keep people moving on Venice Beach's Ocean Front Walk.
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles city parks, beaches and markets

Griffith Park reopened its trails Saturday morning. All city recreation centers, aquatic facilities, skate parks, tennis courts, playgrounds, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts remain closed, as are other “indoor and outdoor sport amenities.”

In Griffith Park, authorities have closed facilities including the observatory, Travel Town, train rides, the pony rides, the merry-go-round and some roads.

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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.

Visitors practice social distancing at the beach in Ventura on Saturday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

About 24 farmers markets are open in the city, including the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, after the city tightened safety and social-distancing requirements in early April.

Henry Brown, 42, exercises in MacArthur Park in the Westlake District of L.A. on March 31.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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Los Angeles County trails, beaches and parks

L.A. County local, community and regional parks remain open, parks officials said.

Though county beaches are set to open Wednesday, Los Angeles County’s piers, beach bike paths and most beach-adjacent parking lots are also closed under an order that covers beaches in every coastal city and unincorporated area of the county. County park play and sports amenities, including playgrounds, also remain closed.

As U.S. faces its most trying coronavirus pandemic days, industry leaders imagine the future of travel.

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.”

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Catalina Island

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

Since mid-March, state parks officials have closed all state campgrounds, then closed vehicle access to the entire state park system, then fully closed more than 60 parks.

Since then, however, the state has partially reopened half of those, leaving the state with dozens of open parks neighbored by closed parking lots. Before you visit any state park, check its status with the state. Among the state parks still closed in Los Angeles County: The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve and Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

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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

On May 13, Pasadena city officials reopened 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 until further notice, but “actively working on reopening plans,” its website said Tuesday.

Descanso Gardens reopens Saturday. The L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia is open (reservations required).

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Santa Monica Mountains

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has reopened most of its trails, parking lots, overlooks and restrooms. Its two visitor centers remain closed, as does Solstice Canyon, and some areas damaged by the Woolsey Fire in 2018, and its parking lots along Pacific Coast Highway. Like other agencies, the National Park Service urges hikers to wear face coverings and keep their distance from others.

Also, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority has reopened most of its parks, trails, parking lots and restrooms. The authority manages more than 75,000 acres of open space, much of it owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Other Coastal Counties

•Ventura County has allowed the opening of beaches (so long as visitors keep their distance and don’t linger), golf courses and bike shops.

•Orange County has reopened its beaches with restrictions. As in L.A. and Ventura counties, beach-adjacent parking lots remains closed. This list covers the beaches and piers city by city.

The Sunset Cliffs area of San Diego's Point Loma drew crowds over the weekend that worried officials, but returned to calm and distancing Monday morning. San Diego's beaches are open, with restrictions.
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

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•San Diego County reopened its county-run beaches 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.

Throughout Los Angeles County

The Safer at Home order from Los Angeles County Public Health officials prohibits public and private group events and gatherings. It also allows individuals and families to hike, walk and bike 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. Though Los Angeles County has loosened limits on some retailers, indoor and outdoor playgrounds remain closed.

Inland Empire

• 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.

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• 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.

National forests in Southern California

The U.S. Forest Service 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, the areas reopening Saturday includes trailheads for Millard Canyon above Altadena; San Antonio Falls; Icehouse Canyon; and North Devil’s Backbone.

Also reopening: trails 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.

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A spokesman said the Forest Service hadn’t issued any citations during the six-week closure and that “we have not seen a lot of problems.”

• 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.

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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

Though the National Park Service has been gradually reopening its parks in other states, California’s most popular parks remain shut. 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.

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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.


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