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California State Parks

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USA Parks
Central Coast & Central Valley Region
San Simeon Beach State Park
San Simeon Beach State Park © Gary OToole
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Van Gordon Creek Road at San Simeon Creek Road
Cambria, California   93428

Phone: 805-927-2020
Reservations: 800-444-7275
San Simeon State Park is one of the oldest units of the California State Park System. The coastal bluffs and promontories of the scenic park offer unobstructed views of the ocean and rocky shore. The park includes the Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve, the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve were established in 1990.

A 3.3 mile trail runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Washburn Campground. The trail includes scenic overlooks, rest-stop benches and interpretive panels with information on wildlife and habitat. A portion of the trail along the seasonal wetland is wheelchair accessible.
History of the Area
This park was established in 1950. It's known for its coastal trails and Hearst Castle nearby. The area is rich with wildlife including seals, sea lions and otters. In the past it served as a significant stopover point on Native American trade routes.

The state acquired additional land to expand the park throughout the 1960s-1980s. Today, visitors enjoy camping facilities along with picnic areas that were developed during these expansions.

In recent years there has been an emphasis on conservation efforts due to concerns about erosion from overuse by tourists.

The San Simeon Creek Campgrounds offers 115 campsites for tent camping or recreational vehicles. The maximum length for a RV is 35 feet. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. Water spigots are available throughout the campground. Restrooms with flush toilets and coin operated showers, a dump station and water fill-up for RV's, and pay phones are also available. Firewood is for sale from the campground host.

Recreational activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, surfing, beachcombing, bird watching and whale watching. The Junior Ranger Program is a regularly scheduled interpretive program for children. Interpretive walks of the San Simeon Trail may also be available.

Washburn Campground:

This primitive campground is approximately 1 mile inland from the beach on a plateau overlooking the Santa Lucia mountains as well as the Pacific Ocean. Washburn campground can be accessed from the San Simeon Creek Campground enterance station. Facilities here include a fire ring and picnic table at each campsite, water spigots, chemical flush toilets and use of the dump station and water fill-up.

San Simeon Beach State Park is

San Simeon Creek Trail

3.5 miles round tripWhat?s there to see in San Simeon besides the castle?

It?s a common question asked by thousands of travelers on their way to Hearst Castle.

The answer is found at San Simeon State Park, which boasts a diversity of scenery from shoreline to Monterey pine forest. A new trail, complete with interpretive displays, a boardwalk that crosses a wetland, and numerous benches that offer a place to rest and observe the tranquil surroundings. The pathway circles the park?s San Simeon Creek and Washburn campgrounds. About 0.25 mile of the path is wheelchair accessible.

Back in the 1880s, the park?s 500 acres of backcountry were part of Ira Whittaker?s ranch and dairy operation. Eucalyptus was planted, both as a windbreak and for firewood to fuel the dairy?s boiler to make cheese.

Botanical highlight is a stand of Monterey pine, part of the famed Cambria pines, and one of only four native groves left on earth. In winter, monarch butterflies, more often seen on the Central Coast in eucalyptus trees and other nonnative flora, cluster in the park?s Monterey pines.

San Simeon Creek is habitat for the endangered red-legged frog and Western pond turtle. Many migratory birds can be counted at the park?s seasonal wetland: cinnamon teal, mallards, egrets and herons.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 1, just south of the turnoff for San Simeon Creek Campground, turn inland and park at Washburn day-use area. Walk inland along the service road to the signed trailhead on your right. Campers can walk to the trailhead?just west of San Simeon Creek bridge?along the campground road.

The hike: The path tours the eastern fringe of the seasonal wetland and soon reaches a boardwalk that leads across it from one viewing area to another. Beyond the boardwalk the trail junctions. The right fork leads southwest 0.2 mile to the Moonstone Gardens restaurant and Highway 1. Along this side trail, Eagle-eyed hikers might get a glimpse of Hearst Castle located five miles north.

The main trail climbs onto a flat-topped, Monterey pine-dotted ridge. A sometimes overgrown path detours left (north) two hundred yards to a scenic overlook.

Our route descends from the pines into lush riparian area and turns north. A boardwalk crosses a boggy lowland filled with willow, cottonwood and a thick understory of wax myrtle and blackberry bushes.

The path next ascends grassy slopes along the eastern boundary of the park. From the former grazing land, you look out over a scene from the California of a century ago: a windmill, pastoral slopes dotted with cows, the unspoiled beauty of the southern Santa Lucia Mountains.

The trail skirts the edge of the campground, then leads west. Savor the mountain vistas as the path heads southwest on the bluffs above San Simeon Creek.

About a quarter mile from its end the trail splits. The path you?ve been following continues above San Simeon Creek back to the day use area. A second branch crosses the campground road and leads toward the wetland boardwalk, where you turn right and retrace the first five minutes of your walk back to the trailhead.
Nature Programs
Junior Ranger Program

This is a special program for kids that provides the chance to partake in a variety of fun and educational nature-oriented activities at San Simeon State Park. Parents should bring their kids to the Camfire Center at the San Simeon Creek Campground for fun regularly scheduled programs about the Central Coast.
Area Attractions
William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach

William Randolf Hearst State BeachThe beach is located near the historic town of San Simeon along Highway One and gives visitors the opportunity to hike, swim, fish and beachcomb. A popular beach spot, this protected cove also offers visitors pier fishing and deep-sea fishing from chartered boats. Ocean kayaking is also popular. Picnic tables, barbecue grills and restrooms are available.This day use area offers 24 picnic sites, 150 parking spaces, restrooms, water faucets, barbecue grill stands and easy beach access. Recreational activities include picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking and sunbathing. There is a kayak and boogie board concession in operation with equipment for rent.

Fishing licenses are not required when fishing from the pier but limits are enforced.


The beach is located directly across Highway One from the Hearst Castle.Hearst Castle is located on California Highway 1, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Driving time from either city is four to six hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.Hearst Castle, CA Latitude/Longitude: 35.6440 / -121.1676

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing

In general, San Simeon's climate is very mild. Summer temperatures range from the high 50s to low 90s, while winter ranges between the low 40s and high 60s. The average rainfall is 22 inches with the majority of precipitation occurring in winter and spring from November to April. During the winter months fog is common along the coast, but normally burns off by late morning. However, a sweatshirt or sweater and light windbreaker can greatly increase the comfort level on foggy mornings and cool evenings.

Santa Rosa Creek Preserve is an area which includes valuable riparian forests and coastal wetlands, that provide habitat for endangered Tidewater Goby.

San Simeon Natural Preserve consists of vast wetlands, riparian areas, and several undisturbed native plant communities including unique mima mound topography. The Preserve is also the wintering site for monarch butterfly populations.

The 13.7 acre Pa-nu Cultural Preserve contains the most significant archeological site within San Simeon State Park. The site has been dated to 5850 years before the present, and it contains significant evidence documenting prehistoric technology, subsistence practices and social organization over the course of several centuries.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
November 5 Bald Eagle Sighting
park review stars; one to five Today, Thursday 11/5/2020, my wife and I walked to the end of the San Simeon State Beach trail through the cypress canopy. At the end of the canopy we saw 2 bald eagles perched high above us. No option to upload a photo which we were lucky enough to capture.
August 4 San Simeon State Beach, Cambria, CA
park review stars; one to five Made reservations for 3 days; set up camp (tent and trailer) and took dog for two walks (on leash) and the ticks and foxtails were terrible and had to leave; we were there 6 hours! We were at Washburn campground; maybe try the lower camp; not as primitive. Very disappointed.
September 11 family favorite
park review stars; one to five on our last trip we took our dog - over 50% of the guests had dogs - however no dogs were permitted on the beach or trails - we had to load up and drive either north or south to find dog friendly hikes and beaches - we ended up leaving 2 days early
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San Simeon State Park is located 35 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, and 5 miles south of the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument Visitor Center. The community of Cambria is located 2 miles to the South and offers gas stations and grocery stores.San Simeon, CA - Latitude/Longitude: 35.6438 / -121.1897

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California State Parks