McGrath State Beach

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McGrath State Beach
Map showing the location of McGrath State Beach
Map showing the location of McGrath State Beach
Location Ventura County, California, USA
Nearest city Oxnard, California
Coordinates 34°13′30″N 119°15′30″W / 34.22500°N 119.25833°W / 34.22500; -119.25833Coordinates: 34°13′30″N 119°15′30″W / 34.22500°N 119.25833°W / 34.22500; -119.25833
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

McGrath State Beach is a protected beach park located on the south bank of the mouth of Santa Clara River in the city of Oxnard, California.[1] McGrath State Beach is one of the best bird-watching areas in California, with the lush riverbanks of the Santa Clara River and sand dunes along the shore.[2] A nature trail leads to the Santa Clara Estuary Natural Preserve.[3] Located south of Ventura on Harbor Boulevard, the beach is on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route and the California Coastal Trail.[4] Camping sites are available. Two miles of beach provide surfing and fishing opportunities. Just south of the station is the undeveloped Mandalay Beach Park which is about a mile downcoast beach walk from the park or a bike ride along Harbor Blvd.

The park overlies the productive West Montalvo Oil Field and oil wells are in an enclosure just behind the beach that are operated by Venoco, Inc., and slant-drill into the offshore part of the field.[5][6] A bit farther downcoast is the Mandalay Generating Station – the stack is easily visible from the beach – owned by Reliant Energy.[7]

Although the park often closes in winter, lack of funding to repair the infrastructure, specifically a rusting sewage pipe, closed the park in 2011 until repairs could be made. Flooding has been a continuing problem. The water level in the estuary rises when the winter rains fail to breach the sand bar at the mouth of the river. When campgrounds and necessary facilities flood, the park closes until conditions changes.[8][9] The beach and McGrath Lake are available during the closures but access is limited to walking from an adjacent area.[10] Surfers Knoll Park[11] on the beach on the north side of Ventura Harbor can be used to access by walking south across the sand bar at the mouth of Santa Clara River.[12]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: McGrath State Beach
  2. ^ "McGrath State Beach - Site # 134" California Watchable Wildlife. Retrieved 5 November 2013
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Santa Clara Estuary Natural Preserve
  4. ^ Coastwalk. "California Coastal Trail Section Data". Retrieved 2010-07-18. 
  5. ^ "Record of Survey: McGrath Beach State Park." 26 RS 85. Ventura County Recorder 15 February 1963. Retrieved January 27, 2014 from CountyView GIS.
  6. ^ Lohan, Tara (November 24, 2014) "An 85-Year-Old Takes On Big Oil and the Company Burying the Industry’s Dangerous Waste" Earth Island Journal
  7. ^ Reliant Energy Retail Holdings, LLC (2010). "Reliant Energy - Electric Power Generation within the United States". Retrieved 2010-07-18. [dead link]
  8. ^ Carlson, Cheri (September 11, 2014) "Agencies continue talks to find solution for flooding at McGrath campground" Ventura County Star
  9. ^ Johnson, Brett (December 15, 2014) "McGrath State Beach campground, estuary issues under study" Ventura County Star
  10. ^ "McGrath Beach Trail" California State Parks. Retrieved 5 November 2013
  11. ^ Coastwalk "Surfers Knoll" California Coastal 2003. Retrieved 28 December 2013
  12. ^ Zach Behrens (31 October 2013) "McGrath State Beach Campground Closed Indefinitely" KCET blog:Living: Travel: SoCal Wanderer: State Park. Retrieved 31 October 2013

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