Saturday, July 23, 2011

McGrath State Park

(Amanda:) We had a little change of scenery and went camping with some friends at the beach! It was nice to camp with friends, too!

This campground is different than most that we've been to because you really feel up in everyone's business. Everyone is camping together and your purpose it to be close to the beach, not to be "away from people." Don't get me wrong, it was great, just different than the weekend before in Blue Ridge!

FYI: The trees around the campground are SPIDER CENTRAL!

Our campsite

One thing I did love is that our campsite was on GRASS, which was great for JW. He got to crawl around everywhere with no worries. He is not loving be confinement of his pack-n-play these days.

Another great thing about this campground is the nature preserve and hike, but unfortunately it's partially closed this time of the year. What we did get to walk was great though. And little JW fell asleep in the backpack which was wonderful because we are trying to get him used to that pack so we can take him on long hikes. Last hike we took him on in the back he cried for a good portion of it... made for a tense hike.
Sleep hiker, LOOK AT THOSE LIPS!

Fresh Water Marsh in the Preserve

One of the loops in the campground around a field.
(Justin:) I speak for myself here but I have never been much of a beach camper. The mountains have always had a louder call I guess. We ended up beach camping because some dear friends of ours invited us, and I am glad they did. McGrath State Beach campground did not disappoint. It's a very large campground, 174 campsites, that are well laid out in six clusters (see map up top). Some very near to the beach, our camp sight was one of the furthest away from the beach. It was perfect for the kids because it was right next to a large grass felid where JW and the kids could play. Some of the sites are tucked in amongst small trees and beautiful bushes covered in purple ball like flowers, others are in open fields with many having a mixture of the two. There are large fields throughout the campground that are big enough for a little baseball game or to let the kids run around. We camped here on a Sunday night in July and the place was about 75% full, during the weekend it's packed. Like most beach camping reservations are recommended. Our friends only had to make the reservations two weeks ahead, but give yourself a little more time if you want to come here on a weekend.
Walking to the beach

The campground is separated from the water by sand dunes so expect a little walk to the water, not too far, about 400 yards or so. The beach is very wide with a large portion closed off for half the year, for the protection of the endangered Western Snowy Plover and Least Terns that nests on the beach. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, even with a leash, because the Snowy Plover will abandon its nest at the site of a dog, even if it's more then 100 yards away, so we left dear little Lucky at home for this trip (she was heart broken). Kites are another no-no here due to the Least Terns mistaking them for a predator and leaving it's nest to attack the kite.

McGrath is popular with surfers when the surf is good, swimmers are advised to use cation due to the strong rip tides in the area. This is another great place to bird watch with 245 recorded bird species spending at least part of the year here. There is a nature trail to the Santa Clara Estuary Natural Preserve leading out of the campground just to it's north and just to it's south lies a small lake. The estuary nature trail is a wood planked boardwalk and is surrounded by tall grass and trees witch make it difficult to see any birds, but other trails in the area lend themselves quite well to bird watching.

We are grateful for the change of scenery and hope to do another beach trip soon! But we hear the mountains calling our name...

McGrath State Beach is about 5 miles south of the town of Ventura, off Harbor Blvd.

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