To describe this hike, you have to use a couple phrases that you wouldn’t normally associate with Orange County, Central Park and Lake Trail, but you will also use a few phrases that are quite fitting for Southern California, laid back and leisurely. Like the Big Apple, there is a Central Park in Huntington Beach (the Big Orange?) with over 350 acres of green space just a couple miles from the blue waters of the Pacific. Within the park lies Lake Huntington, which can be circled on a level and easy 3/4-mile loop. If you work up an appetite, sit down for a bite on the patio of Kathy May’s Lakeview Café, located inside the park on the shore of Lake Huntington.
There are a number of places to begin the loop, and since all you do is follow the lake shore, the directions are pretty obvious. If you start from the large parking area at the end of Central Park Drive, you can begin and end alongside the Lakeview Café. Hiking in a clockwise direction, you will begin down a paved path toward the east side of the lake. North of the lake trail, you’ll spot a large field, picnic pavilion, and playground (some of the park’s many amenities). Turning south, you can follow a wide dirt trail along the east bank of Lake Huntington.
Return to pavement on a walking path along the south side of the lake. The trail buckles out to a point along the water’s edge where you can get a good panoramic view of the lake. This is a popular spot for fishing on Lake Huntington.
According to the City of Huntington Beach:
Fishing is permitted according to State Fish and Game Regulations, and anyone over age 16 is required to have a fishing license clearly visible. Fish species include: channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, rainbow trout and carp. Channel catfish are stocked in the summer and rainbow trout are stocked in the winter. Catch and release is suggested for the bass. No boats or rafts are permitted on the lakes. However, model boats that operate by electricity, steam, or sail are permitted on Lake Huntington.
You might only see a handful of fisherman on Lake Huntington, but you will see hundreds of ducks! They are everywhere along the lake shore.
As you reach the west end of the lake, you can turn right and follow a dirt path beneath a cluster of eucalyptus trees lining the lake. Benches beneath the trees offer a nice pace to take a break. You can also follow the paved path as it circles behind these trees, passing a playground and another parking lot off Edwards Street.
By either route, you will reach the north side of the lake where the path becomes a sidewalk along Lakeview Drive. Stroll between the street and the lake back to the parking lot near the cafe. Famous for its BBQ, Kathy May’s Lakeview Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and “sunset dinner” (7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.).
According to the City of Huntington Beach, “Huntington Beach Central Park is the largest city-owned park in Orange County” and “home to the largest children’s library west of the Mississippi.” The park is free to enter and very dog friendly, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Take the 405 freeway to exit 18 for Bosla Avenue. At the end of the off-ramp, turn west on Bosla Avenue and drive to Edwards Street, at the next major intersection. Turn left onto Edwards Street and drive 3 miles south to Central Park Drive. Turn left and drive a quarter mile to the park entrance at the end of the road.
Trailhead address: 6622 Lakeview Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Trailhead coordinates: 33.69929, -118.010354 (33° 41′ 57.44″N 118° 00′ 37.27″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Southern California trails and campgrounds.
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