Back to the beach again this week, but this trail has a much different feel than the one in Long Beach. There is no paved path, just very wide sandy beach. Although I crossed over several beaches sitting in front of large houses and condos, I encountered few people. I began at Channel Islands Harbor and hiked up the coast over Hollywood Beach, Oxnard Beach, Oxnard Shores, Mandalay State Beach, finally coming to McGrath Lake which sits right next to the ocean.
Distance: About 8 miles
Driving Directions: In Oxnard, from either Pacific Coast Highway or the 101 Freeway, exit onto Rice Road. The first exit from PCH and the last exit from the 101 is Channel Islands Blvd. Take Channel Islands Blvd., sticking with it as it curves to the left and goes over an overpass. Drive several miles (I think about 6 or 7) until you come to Harbor Blvd. Turn left on Harbor and take it to it’s end at Channel View Park. Channel View Park is a good-sized free parking lot with a few benches.
The beach is very wide, about 400 yards of sand between houses and water. For most of the hike there was no need to worry how high the tide was. However, the sand was soft and my feet shifted and sunk with every step. I hiked at the edge of the water where the sand is most firm but was continually chased away by crashing waves. Not even an hour into the hike and my body, forced to use unfamiliar muscles, began to complain.
For me, one of the beautiful things about hiking is that eventually all my pain goes away. Aches I thought would worsen the longer I hike seem to disappear. I believe there’s a liberation from stress which benefits mind, body and spirit equally.
I passed a few of these large drainage outlets – on this day, dry from the land side.
I thought this was quite odd. The beach was littered not with seaweed but rather bamboo. For miles, washed up bamboo roots and shoots. I was told it was probably growing in the creeks which empty into the ocean. The roots are so bizarre, like twisted bodies with limbs growing in every direction. Perfect for carving voodoo dolls and fertility idols, I assume.
The Swiss cheese house on Hollywood Beach.
The most prominent landmark along the way is this power plant.
I pass the plant.
The Channel Islands seemed distant today. Here is Anacapa.
Just beyond the power plant, hidden behind sand dunes, lays McGrath Lake. I used the map on my GPS to pick the ideal spot to head over the dunes – the middle of the lake lengthwise is also it’s widest point. Gently I hiked, careful not step on any plants. This area is closed for part of the year as it is used as a nesting site.
Pretty McGrath Lake
Giant Robot Junkyard; Fifty foot towers stand just beyond the lake.
McGrath State Beach runs on for another two miles but I turned back here.
The Sun reflects on bright, white foam.
When I got back the power plant, the drainage I crossed earlier had gone from a trickle to a rushing torrent. Warnings about swift moving water knocking people off of their feet rang in my head. I removed my boots, bundled up my camera in its rain cover and stowed them. The current was strong and just above my knee but I made it across without taking the plunge. Nice day, thanks Oxnard.