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What’s open and closed this weekend: Parks, trails and beaches in Southern California

Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas was the scene of a June 3 protest over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas was the scene of a June 3 protest over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. In surfing culture, paddle-outs are a way to memorialize people or issues.
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

Southern Californians, now navigating a pandemic and social upheaval, are still under orders to cover their faces outdoors. But as state and county strictures shift, parks, restaurants, shops and now state campgrounds are reopening rapidly, joining a long list of beaches and trails now back in action.

State parks officials said Wednesday they will partially reopen 29 state campgrounds on Friday, including many in Southern California. Among them: Leo Carrillo State Park in L.A. County; Bolsa Chica State Beach, Doheny State Beach, Crystal Cove State Park’s Moro Campground and San Clemente State Beach in Orange County; and Chino Hills State Park in San Bernardino County.

“People can start making reservations now [for June 12-21] at ReserveCalifornia.com,” said state parks spokesman Jorge Moreno. “But you can’t just show up.” There are more details in the State Parks in Southern California section below and on the state parks web pages.

•The Catalina Island Co., which reopened its Pavilion Hotel on June 4, on Friday will reopen its Zip Line Eco Tour and meal service at the Descanso Beach Club. A spokeswoman said the company would reopen its five campgrounds on June 15.

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•San Marino’s Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens announced Wednesday it would open its gardens to its members on June 17 and the public on July 1. The Huntington’s library and museum spaces and art galleries will remain closed for now.

•Yosemite National Park will begin a complex, gradual reopening on Thursday, with an emphasis on advance reservations.

In Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, South Lake Tahoe, Napa-Sonoa wine country and many other popular destinations, hotels and tourism agencies announced openings and accelerated marketing efforts.

But there have been setbacks too. The popular Eaton Canyon waterfall and trails in Pasadena closed temporarily because of crowding Memorial Day weekend, and visitors and hikers now need free timed tickets to enter the natural area and access the trail system. You’ll find advance tickets online at the L.A. County website.

As state and national park officials puzzle over how to reopen more public lands safely — and California averages more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths per day — here’s a quick look at what’s open and closed.

The reopenings come with strings attached, including required face coverings in many areas, forbidden gatherings and closed piers and beach boardwalks; those details vary by city.

•In the city of Los Angeles, trails and parks are open with restrictions.

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•In the Eastern Sierra’s Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties, the belated trout season opener was May 31, having been postponed from April 25.

•In L.A. County, officials have opened beach bike paths and some beach parking lots, including those at Dockweiler State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach and Zuma Beach.

•Throughout L.A., Orange and Ventura counties, beaches are open for active recreation (swimming, surfing, running, walking) but closed to sunbathing, napping and other passive activities. This list covers California’s beaches in detail.

In San Diego, officials have relaxed rules requiring only active use of the beaches. As of June 2, sitting and sunbathing are permitted.

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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti continues to warn residents that maintaining physical distance is vital and that wearing a face covering outside your home or car is required.

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

This list is designed to help readers keep track of beach restrictions.

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If you do go outside for a walk, remember these tips for keeping safe. Local and state officials emphasize the need to take greater care in maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others.

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

Though city golf courses and tennis courts have reopened and parks are open, all city recreation centers, aquatic facilities, skate parks, playgrounds, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts remain closed.

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In Griffith Park, trails reopened in early May, but much remains closed, including the Griffith Observatory, Travel Town, train and pony rides, the merry-go-round, playgrounds 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.

Ventura
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.

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

Los Angeles County trails, beaches and parks

In L.A. County, as in Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, beaches are open for active use — surfing, swimming, running and walking. But they are generally closed to sunbathing, gatherings larger than one household and organized sports.

County parks’ play and sports amenities, including playgrounds, also remain closed.

Parks officials noted on their website that “you can still enjoy time outdoors at your local park for...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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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) impose stricter limits, the county order does not supersede them. Although Los Angeles County has loosened limits on some retailers, indoor and outdoor playgrounds remain closed.

Catalina Island

Beyond the boost in boat serve and opening of the Pavilion Hotel, campgrounds, mini golf course, Descanso Beach Club and zip line, the Catalina Chamber of Commerce reports that many of the island’s parks, harbors and beaches and businesses are open with limited services.

•The Catalina Express, which had cut back its service to two round trips a day between Long Beach and Avalon (the island’s only town), has bumped that up to three trips and has restarted daily service from Dana Point to the island. (Passengers are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth.) The Catalina Flyer, which had suspended service between the island and Newport Beach, will resume sailing on June 19, the Chamber of Commerce said.

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•The Catalina Island Conservancy reopened its trails May 8 and Catalina Island Co. on May 14 reopened moorings to all boaters at Two Harbors and areas from White’s Landing to Emerald Bay.

State Parks in Southern California

Taken together, the state campgrounds partially reopening Friday amount to 1,667 campsites.

Besides the locations cited above, the list includes the following: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and South Carlsbad State Beach in San Diego County; Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County; El Capitan and Refugio state beaches in Santa Barbara County; and many other state campgrounds listed here.

The new reservation process cover the nights of June 12-21. Parks officials said in a statement that “visitors with existing campground reservations for June 22 or later will be notified via email in the case that their reservation must be cancelled in compliance with local and public health orders.”

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Parks officials also said that the governor is still asking Californians to “stay close to home, maintain physical distancing and avoid congregating with others outside their immediate household.”

Previously, state officials reopened the parking lots to more than 140 state parks, removing a tight restraint from a system that has been largely out of reach to most Californians since March.

After weeks of gradual closures, then gradual openings, just 21 state parks are entirely closed, including these three in L.A. County: Los Encinos State Historic Park; Pio Pico State Historic Park; and Watts Towers (Simon Rodia State Historic Park).

Before you visit any state park, check its status with the state.

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The popular Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in the Baldwin Hills area is open, as is its parking lot. (The vehicle entrance fee is $6 on weekends and holiday, free on weekdays.) Playgrounds and picnic areas in the park are still taped off.

San Gabriel Valley

•Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Loop, the 3.1-mile-walking path around the famed stadium, reopened May 13.

•The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino is closed until further notice, but it is “actively working on reopening plans,” its website said Tuesday.

Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge reopened May 16; tickets must be purchased in advance.

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•The L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia is open (reservations required).

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 reopened beaches (as 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, many beach-adjacent parking lots remain closed, but policies are evolving. This list covers the beaches and piers city by city.

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Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma
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)

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.

• Riverside County leaders have allowed golf courses to reopen, with restrictions. Hiking, bike- 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, but is gradually reopening them, leaving Southern California’s four forests — Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino — to make their own decisions on trail access and parking.

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•In the Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles, officials on May 16 reopened 23 popular trails, four trail heads and 19 roads in the San Gabriel Mountains (with social distancing requirements). However, the forest has closed some popular trails when crowding became a problem. Chantry Flat north of Arcadia was temporarily closed Sunday. Some back-country campgrounds have reopened.

• In the San Bernardino National Forest, whose 680,000 acres include four mountain ranges in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, a spokesman said trails, trail heads, staging areas that function as trail heads and parking areas at trail heads 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 trail head 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, more than a dozen campgrounds remain closed, along with several trail heads, picnic and day-use areas and overlooks.

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The popular Cedar Creek Falls and Three Sisters Falls trails are closed through June 26.

National parks in California

The National Park Service has been gradually reopening its parks, and now most of California’s nine parks and two national recreation areas are at least partly open. Joshua Tree reopened its roads, trails and individual campsites (but not its visitors centers) on May 17. Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks opened Thursday. Yosemite today began opening wilderness area and the Half Dome Trail, permits required, but there’s no opening date yet for Yosemite Valley. Before visiting, check details on the park website.

Still closed: Death Valley National Park (except for California 190 and Daylight Pass).


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