Home | Places to Visit | Group Hikes | Urban Nature | Saftey & Other Tips | Restoration/Preservation Projects | Take Action | Contact "Us" | Links | Site Map

San Onofre State Beach Camping

San Onofre State Beach
San Mateo Campground 8-19-08 329.jpg
San Mateo Campground, 8-19-08

San Mateo Campground View from the Ampitheater
San Mateo Campground San Onofre State Beach 8-20-08 103.jpg
San Onofre State Beach's San Mateo Campground next to Camp Pendleton, 8-20-08

A few pictures of our surfing and camping trip at San Onofre State Beach August 18th to 20th, 2008.  I took my son and six of his high school friends, we stayed at San Mateo Campground.  The kids surfed Trestles, Old Man's Beach (surf beach) and San Onofre Bluffs beach.  We had to reserve two spots, #122 the first day and then move to #103 the next day because no camp spots were available for more than one day but it was well worth it. 

During our stay I also visited San Onofre Bluffs campground and San Clemente State Beach campground--San Mateo Campground is the nicest in the area by far!  Many things to do, including several campground activities, interpretive programs for children and crafts for adults.  I can see why this is the fifth most visited state park in California! 

Lots of wildlife in San Mateo Campground.  Although there have been sightings of rattlesnakes and mountain lions recently we didn't see any.  Lots of rabbits, squirrels and many different birds--a perfect place for bird watching.  If you are into California Native Plants many nice specimens can be found here. 

The campground road winds and loops through the camp for a long way, very nice to walk or bike ride.  The hike to Trestles Beach although long is very scenic.  On the opposite side of Christianitos Road and San Mateo Campground are a number of San Onofre backcountry trails with great views of the San Mateo Creek watershed and Pacific Ocean views. 

Click any picture on this page for an enlarged view. 

San Onofre State Beach, Trestles Beach
Trestles Beach 8-19-08 219.jpg
Trestles Beach, Cottons, 8-19-08

The photo above was taken at noon.  The water and the beach is very clean and beautiful.  Take the trail to the beach from San Mateo Campground near the ampitheater to get here.  It's about 1 mile from the campground to Trestles Beach with a few uphills.  Very scenic and worth the walk!

View of the Trail to Trestles Beach
San Mateo Campground Trail to Trestles 8-20-08 107.jpg
The trailhead to Trestles next to the ampitheater, 8-20-08

The photo above was taken from the stairway to the ampitheater.  The trail climbs uphill, along Christianitos Road, under the I5, crosses Old Abandoned Highway 101 and continues through the San Mateo Creek Preserve.  At the end of the trail you pass under the train track bridge and you are at the beach, the Cottons area of Trestles Beach just north of the Lagoon and mouth of San Mateo Creek (shown in picture above left).

San Mateo Campground, view from Ampitheater
San Mateo Campground 8-20-08 375.jpg
Looking toward the hills from the ampitheater, 8-20-08

Above pic, looking toward the hills on the other side of Christianitos Road from the ampitheater.  The trail on hill is one of the San Onofre backcountry trails.

San Mateo Campground view from trail to Trestles
view from Trestles Trail 8-18-08 110.jpg
View from the first uphill near the ampitheater, 8-18-08

The trail to Trestles Beach from San Mateo Campground is also called the San Mateo Nature Trail or according to the trail map (pickup a copy at the campground entrance) is called Panhe Trail named for the ancient Indian village the trail runs through.

View from trail to Trestles Beach
view from Trestles Trail 8-18-08 123.jpg
Almost at the highest point of the trail looking back toward San Mateo Campground, 8-18-08

Pictured above, the view of San Mateo Campground, San Mateo Creek Watershed and Camp Pendleton Hills.

San Mateo Campground, Camp spot #122
San Mateo Campspot 122 8-18-08 097.jpg
View of the campsite, standing next to San Mateo Creek, 8-18-08

San Mateo Campground, Camp Spot #122 Creek View
San Mateo Campspot 122 8-18-08 095.jpg
Looking at San Mateo Creek from our campsite

San Mateo Campground, Camp Spot #103
San Mateo Campspot 103 8-19-08 227.jpg
Looking at our campsite from the road running through San Mateo Campground, 8-19-08

San Mateo Campground, Camp Spot # 103
San Mateo Campspot 103 8-19-08 229.jpg
View from the back of our campsite, 8-19-08

We stayed in campsite #122 the first day, located along San Mateo Creek.  The spaces along the creek are large.  #122 didn't have much shade but it was nice.  Lots of squirrels here, had to keep food in the tent to keep them out of it.  We stayed in campsite #103 the second night.  I liked #103 better, more shade and closer to the bathrooms.  Surrounded by berry bushes, we saw a variety of birds here and lots of rabbits.  This was only two spots away from the spot the rattlesnake was found (rattlesnake photo is shown on the Safety page).  We didn't see any snakes while we were there. 

The kids heading for the surf breaks at Trestles
Trestles 8-19-08 173.jpg
My son and a few friends, early morning surfing at Trestles Beach Cottons, 8-19-08

My son enjoying the surf at Trestles
Trestles 8-19-08 197.jpg
Early a.m. surfing at Trestles on 8-19-08

Trestles Beach
Trestles 8-19-08 210.jpg
It's noon on 8-19-08, the sun is finally coming out, the water is clear and beautiful

The kids enjoyed surfing Trestles Beach.  A few surfed Lowers and some stayed at Cottons.  The bottom is rocky at Trestles and has submerged objects in places but this is the best surf around.  Nobody had a problem with stingrays here but two of our group were stung by rays at both Old Man's Beach and Bluffs Beach. 

View near San Mateo Campground Entrance
San Mateo Campground 8-20-08 355.jpg
Looking across San Mateo Creek towards the hills of Camp Pendleton, 8-20-08

San Mateo Campground
San Mateo Camp 8-19-08 290.jpg
Sunset walk through the campground, 8-19-08

San Mateo Campground Foliage
San Mateo Camp 8-20-08 343.jpg
Elderberries are found throughout the campground

Berry bush found throughout San Mateo Campground
San Mateo Camp 8-19-08 288.jpg
Closeup of the berry bushes found in most campsites, 8-19-08

There are many things to do in the San Clemente/San Onofre area.  During our stay I also visited San Clemente State Beach, the City of San Clemente and walked down to the beach at San Onofre Bluffs, Trail #1 and Trail #2.  I also walked on Old Man's Beach.  The campsite ticket receipt allows you to enter any state park or beach on the dates you reserve a campsite. 

In wilderness areas always use caution, potentially dangerous wildlife is always around even if you don't actually see it.  Please visit my Safety Page.

For a list of all San Onofre State Beach pages on my site including more campground pictures, beach photos, trail pictures, facts about the area and more 
click here.  These pages also show how this area looks in spring (the prettiest season) and winter.

To reserve a campsite at San Mateo Campground visit the state parks official San Onofre State Beach page or the Reserve America website.