The shrubby, duney, jungled wild space between Emma Wood State Park, Ventura River’s estuary, the freeway, and the ocean is etched with footpaths. There are two jumping off points from Emma Wood State Beach parking lot. One is a broad loop that curves through a charred tangle of trees and vines next to the park’s picnic area. The other begins as a paved path that juts under the railroad tracks and through the dunes, where it becomes a wide sandy path lined with an endless row of round beach stones that guide you to the ocean. All paths converge again near the Ventura River, less than a quarter mile away.
The inner pathways and spurs scatter up to the railroad tracks and around charismatic trees and tunnel toward river beaches and sand dunes. As tempting as it is to venture around each bend, piles of litter, blankets and make shift homes trigger discretion.
From the beach, you can cross the river at low tide when it’s ankle height and climb up to the pedestrian/ bike path, which you can either follow toward Surfer’s Point Dunes boardwalk and the Promenade or toward the railroad crossing to watch trains pass by.
Emma Wood State Beach parking lot (fee), Surfer’s Point Parking lot (fee), West Main Bike Path Parking (no fee, longer walk)