Last weekend we had a one night stay in Sycamore Canyon campground, in Point Magu state park. It's a small campground with amazing beach access and I think we'll put this place on regular rotation. I can be a little grinch-y about the beach in summer (crowded, hot, hard to park, high risk of sunburn) but I love, love, love going in the off season. The goal was to hang out on the beach on Saturday afternoon, then get up early on Sunday so D could surf, but Sunday ended up being rainy so we slept in and read and made breakfast between rain showers instead. This sounds wimpy, but it isn't the rain itself that's the problem, but rather the contaminated runoff that results from the rain. I know, lovely. Here are some nice, non-contaminated photos.
Sycamore Canyon details - This is a great little beach campground. My standards are a little lower for beach adjacent campgrounds because you know what you're getting into when you reserve one - you're paying for amazing beach access, and the campground itself is often beside the point (San Onofre is a great example of this). This campground is pretty nice, though. There is running (potable!) water, with hot showers (bring cash for the shower tokens) and flushing toilets. Sites are arranged in a little loop and several of them are nestled into nooks that feel semi-private. You can't reserve your site ahead of time, but check-in is at 2 pm and you can show up and see what's still available. We ended up with site 23, which would be an amazing group site because it has plenty of space, although it doesn't have any tree cover (totally fine for this time of year, would suck in summer). Sites 33 and 42 looked nice and shady, but smaller. You can have three cars per site, and this would be a fun place for group camping. Sites are relatively pricey at $55/night ($45 + $10 for reserving online), but totally worth it. You can buy firewood from the camp host on site ($7/bundle while we were there).
We didn't have time for hiking this weekend, but there is a trail that leads right out of the campground. Since this is a state park, dogs aren't allowed on the trails (sad). In the opposite direction, you can access the beach through a pedestrian tunnel that goes under PCH. The beach allows dogs, which is a huge plus because dog friendly beaches are few and far between around here. Circe was in heaven and kept breaking into a sprint out of sheer joy. Seeing her bounding across the beach almost makes up for the 10 lbs of sand that she managed to bring home with her.