El Dorado Has it All
Enjoy outdoor adventures at El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach
Every city has its flagship green space, and in Southern California competition is fierce for which one is best. So what’s right up there with Griffith and Elysian, yet less known? El Dorado Regional Park in east Long Beach. This massive park has a bunch of outdoor recreation, including a 2.25-mile stroll through the beautiful Nature Center, a disc golf course, archery range, dog park, model plane field, campsites, even a frontier theme park.
Park at the El Dorado Nature Center lot ($6 to $9, depending on the day) and find a trailhead at the north end of the lot. Apart from the impressively manicured system, signage is great and easy to follow. Pass an amphitheater, cross a bridge, and reach the cabin-like center. At the junction, take the right path for a quick 0.25-mile loop before continuing on the 2-mile loop. Meander the path along the stream, passing five bridges with views of two lakes—sanctuaries for turtles, great blue herons, egrets, and other waterfowl. Wind through massive oak groves and beside the creek, stopping at interpretive signs detailing local flora and fauna, such as wild blackberry bush, and predatory birds like the great-horned owl or resident raptors hidden in the trees. When you’re done, check out some of the other amenities at the north and west parts of the park.
Just across the street, El Dorado Park north has a dog park and duck ponds lined with cattails and frequented by Canada geese. This is a horseshoe lake, where you can fish for bass, carp, bluegill, and more. You’ll also find an archery range, which hosted events at the 1984 Summer Olympics. A 3-mile round trip along the water will get you to the north edge of the park, where you’ll find hobbyists flying model planes, El Dorado Frontier (a western theme park), and plenty of open green space, campsites, and picnic areas. Head to the western part of the park to find the various sports fields and a disc golf course (and yes, regular golf too). Another primary attraction is the duck pond, just south of the willow grove. Mallards, coots, and geese abound here, but also look for egrets, stilts, and a flock of local night herons often hopping around the shores. It’s a great place for birdwatching and a picnic under the pines.
To get to the El Dorado Nature Center parking lot and trailhead, take the I-605 to the Spring St. exit if coming from the north. The nature center and lot will be on your immediate left. From the south, take the Willow St. exit and head west, passing over the San Gabriel River. At Studebaker Rd. take a right, passing by the southern part of El Dorado Regional Park. Take a right at Spring St. and find the nature center and lot on your right. No dogs at the nature center; dog-friendly in other parts of the park!
Story and photos by Matt Pawlik.
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