Located in the city of Huntington Beach, California, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a designated nature reserve created to protect coastal wetlands and endangered species. Meaning “little bag” in Spanish, the Bolsa Chica wetlands were once part of the historic Mexican land grant Rancho La Bolsa Chica. Located on the intersection of Warner and Pacific Coast Highway, the reserve sits directly across from Bolsa Chica State Beach and entrance and parking is free to the public.
As a forty-five year Southern California resident, this is my first visit to the wetlands. With inland temperatures in the 90s and matching humidity, a stroll by the ocean sounded inviting and cooler this morning. I arrived, camera in hand, fortunate to catch the sunrise reflecting off the water. After a disgusting pit stop at a public port-a-potty, I headed out to explore the reserve.
Crossing the bridge, I walked along a gravel path and saw birds galore—Great Blue and Green Herons, Egrets, Brown Pelicans and Cormorants—diving for breakfast. As usual, my binoculars and hat were left at home, along with my sunscreen and sunglasses. All are highly recommended, along with plenty of drinking water.
The trails are used by runners and walkers, along with birdwatchers and photographers of all levels. If you’re looking for serenity, the views are breathtaking, but beware, the reserve runs alongside the infamous Pacific Coast Highway so the roar of beach-bound passing cars is inevitable. There are multiple paths to walk, and a nature center to explore if you arrive after 9:00 a.m. all which I will discover next time—I’m curious to see sunset.