It was almost a year ago that I posted Bolsa Chica Wetlands. I’d been wanting to explore more of the Ecological Reserve ever since I read this post about it on Alive in Wonderland. Last year, we visited the interpretive center and took a hike to the heron nesting ground. My son was calling it “hotlands” instead of “wetlands.”
So when fellow bloggers, Debi from Go Explore Nature and Sharlene from Double the Adventure, decided to meet up at the wetlands — I was a little hesitant about the kids’ reactions to another hot and dusty hike. Then I remembered the we could enter from the south and suggested we give that a try. What a difference a few miles can make!!
Location: Parking lot opposite Bolsa Chica State Beach is easily found – by spotting the wooden bridge crossing the wetlands. Lights on side streets (Beach Blvd, Warner, Goldenwest – can take a LONG time off the freeway. I like to take Seal Beach Blvd. and head south on PCH past Warner). MAP TO BOLSA CHICA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE – SOUTH ENTRANCE
- About 30 seconds into our visit, we spotted STINGRAYS – in the wild! Wow! We could have stayed here all day, but the kids wanted to race across the bridge and see what else there was to discover. (If the stingray video is not visible next to this post, click “Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve-PCH Entrance” above and it will show up on the left).
- The main draw to this end of the park is the very long wooden bridge which brings you right on top of the wetland. It’s cooler at this end of the reserve and you can see wildlife in the water, nesting in the vegetation, and flying above.
- We saw plenty of waterfowl on land, in the water, and in the air. I enjoyed quizzing the serious birders we passed to help us identify some of the species we observed: a rare red heron, willets, black skimmer (whose lower beak is one inch longer than the upper so they can scoop goodies from the water), rock doves, and terns. We identified the seagulls, cormorants, and brown pelicans ourselves.
- Once you cross the bridge, you’ll walk dirt pathways with great views of the water below you. Stay on the trail, you’ll see signs about the protected habitat. We even spotted a large crab doing its distinctive sideways crawl.
- If you can last, you’ll make it all the way to the heron nesting grounds reachable from my last post. With little kids in tow, we turned around midway and saw more unique wildlife on the way back.
- Only portable toilets in the parking lot.
- Bring food and water with you – it’s a long walk back to the car.
- Wear sun protection – there is no shade along the route. However, the cool ocean breeze helped to keep things comfortable.
- Parking in a very small lot off Pacific Coast Highway opposite the Bolsa Chica State Beach. If you are coming from the interpretive center to the north – you will need to make a U-turn past the beach entrance to get into the parking lot. If you are coming from the south, it’s a right into the parking lot.
- Dirt trails — get map from center. Strollers would work at this end of the reserve – as long as they are okay on packed dirt.
- Only portable toilets in the parking lot. No real restrooms. As an alternative, there’s a Jack-in-the-Box nearby and a nice Trader Joe’s off Algonquin and Warner.
- No shade
- Bring water and wear appropriate shoes
- Binoculars and nature sketchbooks would be good to bring along for older kids
- Bolsa Chica Conservancy website
- Bolsa Chica Land Trust website
- Amigos de Bolsa Chica tours
- StockTeam (one of our favorite Huntington Beach websites) photos and description