|This guide is an invitation to explore wheelchair-accessible beaches, parks, preserves, and other coastal places between Malibu and San Clemente. We hope it will be useful not only to residents and visitors who travel by wheelchair but also to many other people, including parents wheeling strollers and elderly people with canes.
Take a moment to get acquainted with this site. The places we included are generally within walking distance of the shore and offer something special, be it great views, interesting activities, or opportunities to watch wildlife, get to know native plants, or learn something of local history.
There are more accessible places every year. When we first toured the Los Angeles coastline for the Coastal Conservancy in 1993, we found far fewer than we did in 2000. Each year more obstacles are being removed from pathways and more facilities are brought up to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Explore, inquire, and check web sites.
Organization and Maps
The site moves downcoast, from northern Los Angeles County to southern Orange County, following the Pacific Coast Highway most of the way. The sketchy maps of the two counties on the county pages provide an idea of distances between some of the sites and suggest the shape of the coastline. Its easy to navigate north of Santa Monica, where the highway follows the coast, but we suggest you get a road map for destinations from Santa Monica south. Diagrams of individual sites are provided only where they seemed essential.
The trails on this site are not all flat. Many are, but others are at the upper limit of what an athletic and daring wheelchair rider would attempt with a manual chair. If we call a trail steep or difficult, believe it. That trail is likely to include real risks, such as steep passages where you cant come to a complete stop, potholes, or slippery surfaces, and it will require great physical strength and balance to travel its length. Likewise, if we say that a trail is too steep for wheelchair riding, we mean it.
You are your own best judge for choosing trails that are safe for you. Rather than making assumptions about peoples ability or interest, weve included trails of widely varied difficulty. But please, exercise your own judgment.
We use the terms walk and ride interchangeably. Walk means travel at a slow speed, whether youre on foot or on wheels.
In most communities, Pacific Coast Highway is synonymous with Highway 1. In a few places, one or the other is used exclusively, but you probably wont notice unless youre looking at a local map.
The steepness of ramps is measured by a ratio. A standard ramp is 1:12, meaning that the ramp rises 1 inch for every 12 inches of length.
Where to Find Out More
For more detailed maps and some great photos, download a pdf of the book on which this site is based.
The Public Transportation page lists public transit information. Weve also included phone numbers for most of the sites. Use these sources for information about facilities, beach wheelchairs, docent-led walks, and special events. If they cant answer accessibility questions, they likely will refer you to someone who can. Among helpful web sites are those of the State Parks Department, www.cal-parks.ca.gov; the Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors, beaches.co.la.ca.us; and the County of Orange Harbors, Beaches, and Parks, www.ocparks.com. On all these sites you will find photographs, maps, and short descriptions of beaches and parks that you can download. The State Parks site also links to a list of currently accessible features in each park. These sites are likely to carry updates on projects to improve accessibility.
Large chairs with balloon tires that can roll over sand are available free of charge at several beaches. They require someone other than the rider to push from behind, and are easiest to push on wet sand. Income from sales of the special Coast 4-U automobile license plate enabled the Coastal Conservancy and Coastal Commission to fund the purchase of beach wheelchairs. Call ahead to confirm that a chair is available. Also call ahead if you need more than one.
Anyone may fish from a public pier at the ocean or a bay without a license. If you are 16 years or older, you need a license to fish from any other location. Most bait and tackle shops sell licenses.
Please respect local wildlife. Rememberthe quieter you are, the more you will see and hear. If a dog is with you, please use a leash to prevent it from flushing and chasing shorebirds. Many birds are on long migrations and need to feed and rest.
Wed like to hear from you. Let us know if this site was useful, if anything needs to be changed, and if you found barriers that could be removed. Send your comments to:
1330 Broadway, 11th floor
Oakland, CA 94612.
In the bottom left corner of the envelope, write: Attention Wheelchair Guides. You can also e-mail the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 286-0934.