Shipley to Shore Trail Connects Bolsa Chica to Central Park
By Vic Leipzig

Shipley to Shore Trail MapThe Shipley to Shore trail in its current
state. Map courtesy of the Tree Society.
From its earliest days, one of the goals of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica has been a public trail system that completely surrounds the Bolsa Chica wetlands. That goal has only been partially realized so far, but is gradually getting closer to fulfillment, thanks to an allied organization: the Huntington Beach Tree Society.

In cooperation with the city of Huntington Beach and the Friends of Shipley Nature Center, the Tree Society has been working to create a trail to be called the “Shipley to Shore” trail. It will eventually pass all the way from the Shipley Nature Center near Goldenwest Street and lead to the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Seapoint Street. That’s a distance of nearly three miles. Along the way, it will offer magnificent views of the south end of Bolsa Chica.

Shipley Nature Center lies within the city’s Huntington Central Park which already has an excellent pathway system. Parts of it parallel a trace of old Freeman Creek that used to flow into the wetlands. From the entrance to Shipley, one path leads to the north side of Huntington Lake, but, unfortunately, the trail along the east side of the lake is in desperate need of a major upgrade. Fortunately, the city has set aside funding for an elevated walkway that is expected to be constructed in the coming year. From the south side of the lake, another existing trail leads up the hill past the equestrian center in the direction of the city’s Urban Forest, largely created and maintained by the Tree Society.

At the corner of Edwards Street and Ellis Avenue, trail users will cross Edwards and enter property owned by the County of Orange that is part of the yet-to-be-completed Harriett Wieder Regional Park. Final improvements to Harriett Wieder park will only occur in future decades when oil extraction and pipeline transmission comes to an end, but the public already has access to informal trails that run most of the length of the park area. The sidewalk along Seapoint can be used for stretches where there is no park access.

The native habitats of Huntington Central Park and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve have been altered greatly in the past century and a half, but both remain precious open space that provide benefits to people and wildlife alike.

Some other parts of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve already have extensive public trails, such as the Brightwater Trail at the north end. And a well-used trail borders the ecological reserve on its northeast side where numerous local streets (such as Graham and Springdale) give public access. However, this trail terminates near Springdale, leaving a major gap from there to Edwards Street. In the long run, that ecological reserve trail could connect with Shipley-to-Shore and give the public a full view of the wetlands, fulfilling Amigos’ dream.