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11 State Parks In California Known For Hikes With Ocean Views

California is pretty lucky in that the Pacific Ocean pretty much runs along its entire length.

And oh do us Californians love it!

There’s nothing better than hiking along a scenic trail that overlooks the stunning Pacific Ocean and feeling the salty ocean breeze on your skin.

California has no shortage of hiking trails with ocean views but some are much better than others.

That’s why, in this guide, we’ve come up with the ultimate list of the best state parks in California that offer scenic hiking trails with ocean views.

We’ve included a range of options from the famous trails you can’t miss to some hidden gems you won’t have heard of before.

1. Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park is a stunning place located on the central coast of California, just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

This park is a true hidden gem that few people know about.

You’ll be wowed by breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and its wild, natural beauty. 

There are several hiking trails within Garrapata State Park with each one offering something unique.

The Soberanes Canyon Trail is a popular hike. It involves a scenic walk through a beautiful redwood forest which leads you to a gushing waterfall. 

Another great trail is the Garrapata Bluff Trail which gives you amazing views of the coast and the ocean. 

Besides hiking, you can also enjoy the 2 miles of beach at Garrapata State Park.

You can watch the waves crashing against the rocks and maybe even spot some seals sunbathing on the sand.

Photography is also a favorite activity here because of the park’s scenic landscapes and colorful wildflowers in spring. 

Garrapata State Park is often less crowded compared to other parks in the area. This means that it’s usually super peaceful.

Fun Fact: Interestingly, the name “Garrapata” actually comes from the Spanish word for tick. These creatures were once abundant in the area, although you won’t find many today. 

2. Andrew Molera State Park

Andrew Molera State Park is a beautiful 4,800-acre outdoor area located along the Big Sur coastline.

This park is a great place for people who love nature and adventure as it features a wide range of hiking trails that go through stunning landscapes. 

One of the most popular trails is the beach trail which leads you along a big, sandy beach. It’s perfect for picnics! 

Another highlight is the East Molera Trail which offers amazing views of the mountains and the ocean. It’s breathtaking.

The park also has a spot for surfing. You’ll be able to watch brave surfers catching waves with a breathtaking backdrop. 

Bird watching is another fun activity here as many different types of birds can be spotted throughout the year. 

This includes Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks and even the occasional sighting of a California condor soaring overhead. 

As well as birds, Andrew Molera State Park is actually home to a variety of wildlife including deer, sea otters, seals and sea lions.

3. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is a rugged and beautiful park located along the northern coast of California, near the town of Whitethorn. 

This park is part of the famous Lost Coast which is a stretch of undeveloped shoreline that’s known for its wild natural beauty. 

The park offers several hiking trails that take you through dense forests, along steep cliffs and down to secluded beaches. 

It’s a hidden gem, for sure.

One of the main trails is the Lost Coast Trail which features stunning views of the ocean and the chance to see wildlife like elk and sea lions. This trail is extremely rugged and wild.

Besides hiking, you can go camping in the backcountry. It’s worth noting that campgrounds here are more primitive.

This gives visitors the rare opportunity to sleep under the stars and wake up to the sounds of the ocean. 

Sinkyone is home to diverse wildlife including black bears, seals and sea lions. 

Fishing and whale watching are also popular activities especially during the migration seasons.

Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is actually named after the Sinkyone Native American tribe, who lived in the area for thousands of years.

The park’s remote location means it’s less crowded compared to other more popular state parks. The peaceful atmosphere is a welcome break!

4. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a beautiful 2,000-acre coastal state park. It’s located near San Diego. 

It’s absolutely breathtaking and is particularly famous for its rugged coastline and views of the Pacific Ocean.

Inside the reserve, there are numerous hiking trails that wind through the park. Each offers stunning views of the ocean and the unique trees it’s named after. 

The most famous trees here are the Torrey Pines which are actually incredibly rare and only grow in this area and one other place in California. 

As you walk along the trails, you’ll be able to see these special trees, wildflowers and maybe even some wildlife like rabbits and birds. 

One of the most popular trails is the Beach Trail which takes you down to a sandy beach below the cliffs. It’s a peaceful spot to relax.

Another popular trail is the Guy Fleming Trail which is a relatively short loop trail that offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding cliffs. 

One of my favorite things about Torrey Pines is that the reserve looks different in every season, but it’s always beautiful, with the ocean on one side and greenery on the other. 

5. Sonoma Coast State Park

Sonoma Coast State Park is located along the northern coast of California. It’s just over an hour’s drive from San Francisco. 

This park stretches for miles and is known for its dramatic coastline with long sandy beaches and rugged cliffs. 

There are several hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and lead through different landscapes including rocky shores and peaceful meadows. 

One of the most famous trails is the Kortum Trail which runs along the coastline and allows you to see all the beauty this park has to offer. 

As you walk on these trails, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers, tide pools full of marine life and maybe even spot seals sunbathing on the rocks. 

The park is actually made up of several beaches, each completely different, from quiet coves to wide open sands perfect for picnics and sandcastle building. 

Sonoma Coast State Park is also a great spot for whale watching during the migration seasons when you can actually see these majestic creatures from the shore. 

The park also includes the famous Goat Rock Beach which is known for its impressive sea stacks.

It has even been used as a filming location for several movies including The Goonies.

6. Point Sal Beach State Park

Point Sal Beach State Park is a hidden gem located in the northern part of Santa Barbara County, near the city of Guadalupe.

This park is a bit off the beaten path which makes it a peaceful spot for those who discover it. 

To get to the beach itself, you’ll need to take on a challenging hike along the Point Sal Trail, which is about 10 miles long round trip. 

The trail offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding hills. It’s definitely worth the effort, that’s for sure!

Once you reach the beach, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful, secluded stretch of sand that’s a perfect place to relax after the long hike.

The beach is surrounded by rugged cliffs and rolling hills which creates a stunning setting that feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot birds, sea lions and sometimes even dolphins playing in the water. 

Point Sal Beach State Park tends to be pretty quiet as it’s not accessible by car. The only way to get there is by hiking the 10-mile trail!

The hike pays off though as you’ll be able to enjoy the scenic beach with few other people around.

7. Sue-meg State Park

Sue-meg State Park, formerly known as Patrick’s Point State Park, is a beautiful 640-acre park located in Northern California, near the small town of Trinidad. 

This park is right by the Pacific Ocean and offers unparalleled views of the coast and lots of cool things to do. 

There are several hiking trails that will take you through lush forests, across meadows and along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. 

One popular trail is the Rim Trail which gives you amazing views of the sea and the rocky shoreline. 

Another fun activity is visiting the Sumêg Village which is a replica of a traditional Yurok village. 

Here, you can learn about the Native American tribe that has lived in this area for thousands of years. 

At Sue-meg State Park, you can also go camping, have a picnic with your family or explore tide pools filled with sea creatures like starfish and crabs. 

The park is also home to Wedding Rock, which is a famous place where people get married hundreds of feet above the ocean because of its breathtaking views. It’s a 100-year old tradition!

The park’s diverse environment is home to a wide variety of animals so keep your eyes peeled for deer, sea lions and many types of birds. 

8. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a magical place located on the central coast of California, along Big Sur.

This park is famous for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, beach waterfall and the majestic redwood forests. 

One of the most popular trails is the Waterfall Overlook Trail which is an easy walk that leads to a breathtaking view of McWay Falls that drops right into the ocean. 

Another great trail is the Ewoldsen Trail which will take you through the redwood forests. It is a more challenging route but is worth it because of the views.

Besides hiking, you can also enjoy picnicking with a view of the ocean or exploring the underwater marine life by scuba diving. 

A special spot within the park is the Julia Pfeiffer Burns Underwater Area which is only suitable for divers and scuba divers. It’s considered an advanced dive site.

If you’re brave enough to venture into the water, you’ll be able to see a variety of sea creatures. 

A fun fact about this park is that it’s named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, who was a respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur area. 

9. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a breathtaking area located on the central coast of California, just south of the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

This reserve is famous for its stunning ocean views, beautiful hiking trails and diverse wildlife. 

There are several trails to explore, like the Sea Lion Point Trail, which offers views of sea lions resting on the rocks below. 

Another popular trail is the Cypress Grove Trail where you can walk through one of the only two naturally growing stands of Monterey cypress trees in the world. It’s pretty unique!

For anyone who loves marine life, the reserve’s tide pools are filled with colorful sea stars, mussels, crabs and anemones. 

Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities here and allow you to explore the rich underwater world. Whalers Cove is a top spot for this.

Point Lobos is often referred to as the “crown jewel” of California’s state parks because of its natural beauty. 

10. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a beautiful area located along the coast of Southern California in Orange County. 

It’s located between the cities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. 

This park is known for its stunning beaches, scenic hiking trails and the historic beach cottages in the Crystal Cove Historic District. 

There are over 18 miles of trails to explore. Each trail offers something different, from easy walks along the beach to more challenging hikes up in the hills. 

One of my favorite trails is the 3-mile Moro Canyon Trail which features great views of the ocean and the chance to explore the backcountry. Stunning is an understatement.

As well as hiking, you can also enjoy swimming, surfing and tide pooling at the beach, where you might find sea stars, anemones, mussels, barnacles, crabs and other marine life. 

Kayaking and paddleboarding are also popular activities in the crystal-clear waters off the coast. 

Crystal Cove is also home to The Beachcomber which is a cafe located right on the beach itself!

The park has actually been the filming location for several movies and TV shows thanks to its picturesque setting!

11. Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park is located in Southern California, right in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu. 

This 14,000-acre park features over 60 miles of hiking trails which range from stunning views of the mountains, valleys and even the Pacific Ocean. 

One of the most popular trails is the Ray Miller Trail. It’s ideal for beginners and offers beautiful ocean views. 

Another favorite is the Sycamore Canyon Trail where you’ll wander through a cool, shaded canyon. 

Additionally, Point Mugu State Park is perfect for camping as there are several campgrounds on-site where you can stay overnight under the stars. 

The beaches at Point Mugu are also a big draw. They’re ideal for surfing, fishing or just playing in the sand. 

The park is actually named after Mugu Rock which is a distinctive, huge rock formation that sits along the park’s coastline. You can’t miss it.

The park is also a fantastic place to spot different bird species, especially during their migrations. 

Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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