Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Oso Flaco Lake Trail [CLOSED] is a 1.7 mile out and back trail located near Nipomo, California that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 1.7 miles Elevation Gain: 22 feet Route Type: Out & Back

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

stroller friendly


nature trips


bird watching




partially paved



no dogs

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 there is currently no vehicle access to this trail or others in the park. See here for more info: Please note: For about half the year there are large sections that are closed off for the snowy plover mating season. Please consult the park's website before visiting. Oso Flaco Lake is part of the former Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve, operated by The Nature Conservancy. The area has been transferred to California State Parks, and is now part of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The trail and the portion of the beach it accesses are not open to vehicles of any kind. The trail starts at a large gravel parking lot and is briefly paved. The closed paved road turns to dirt and soon reaches the start of the Oso Flaco Lake boardwalk, on your left. Turn here and take the boardwalk across the lake. The boardwalk includes benches and several interpretive signs identifying common plants and birds in the area. After crossing the lake, the boardwalk continues over the dunes to a high point near the beach. Here, a short section of boardwalk branches off the main route and leads to a viewing platform with excellent views to the north and south along the beach. There is also a picnic area near here with picnic tables and a restroom. The main route follows a sandy path between two fenced-off areas (the one to the north protecting snowy plover habitat) and leads onto the beach. From here, views extend south to Point Sal and north to Point San Luis. The mouth of Oso Flaco Creek, which drains the lake, lies just to the south of here.

9 days ago

Quick, wheelchair friendly, good for families, and bring beach stuff for the end of the hike!

1 month ago

One of the best places on the Central Coast to look at birds.

2 months ago

cant take dogs

4 months ago

This is a nice, short hike to the lake and beach. Usually there are not many people here, but it can get busy on warm days. For about half the year there are large sections that are closed off for the snowy plover mating season. What makes this interesting is the lakes near the ocean and the river that flows out to the sea. After the rain, the water can get quite deep, so be prepared to get wet if you want to cross over. There are usually people fishing on the bridge that crosses the lakes and at the beach.

4 months ago

So many Pokestops

5 months ago

Pretty and quiet for the most part. Good preservation of nature for a public area. Not usually very busy at all. Sometimes just the few fishermen that went out that day. But always bring a sweater even if it’s hot. The fog or cold wind can roll in quick. Good for all ages. Not for dogs.

8 months ago

This was a great kid friendly hike, beautiful views and the trail and boardwalk was a very well-maintained.

9 months ago

Hidden gem. It’s an easy walk. You should definitely explore one of California’s most unique environment’s. Here you can watch the sea meet the land, where waves, wind and sand dunes push onshore.

Mon Nov 26 2018

Easy, beautiful, a nice relaxing stroll over a boardwalk that leads to the ocean just south of the Oceano Dunes recreation area. Vehicles aren’t allowed this far down on the beach. There’s a small creek that flows into the ocean so be prepared to get wet if you’d like to cross it and continue south on the beach. There is a day use fee if you park in the parking lot. There is also parking along the road outside. Bathrooms were kind of gross.

Mon Nov 12 2018

Such a good hike, with an AMAZING view!

Sat Oct 13 2018

This is a pretty nice trail. It could use a bit of maintenance and the outhouse near the end tends to be dirty so go to the bathroom before you go. The views at the end are so worth it and the beach won’t have a lot of people. It’s an easy enough walk to be able to bring a cooler and lunch.

Sun Aug 19 2018

Gorgeous trail, very easy for kids. We took our 3 year old and 18 month old and they walked the entire trail out and back. Beautiful beach at the end of the trail.

Sat Jul 14 2018

Easy Hike. very scenic ends at the beach but tide is very strong in the water. not a swimming beach.

Wed Jun 13 2018

This trail exceeded our expectations. I brought my 7 and 8 year old to explore a new area and it was perfect! Beautiful bridge across the water and a boardwalk all the way to the viewing deck at the beach made it easy to navigate and super easy for the kids! Bring your poles if you’re a fishing family because the fish were jumping and very few people were out fishing so it makes it feel very serene.

Mon Apr 09 2018

Very easy beautiful trail. You go over a bridge with lots of different types of birds on a lake. Then a well paved easy walkway all the way to the beach. Nice easy trail.

Fri Feb 02 2018

We did this hike when my son was 3 months old. It was very easy and we loved it. I didn't even have to change into any sort of work out gear or wear tennis. It seems like the trail would be great for someone in a wheelchair also (seemed wide enough).

Tue Jan 02 2018

Beautiful, the kids did it easily, there were beautiful birds everywhere, and we saw dolphins jumping and riding waves at the end.

Tue Jan 02 2018

This trail has a beautiful ocean view at the end that makes it worth the long walk. Most of the path is wheelchair, bike accessible. There are even wildlife mallards, raccoons, beautiful serene area.

Mon Aug 14 2017

A great walk through a variety of settings, both fresh water and the ocean. Dolphins, seals, raccoon, fish jumping and a variety of birds. The beach is gorgeous!

Wed Aug 09 2017

Easy hike. beautiful. usually hardly anyone on the beach.

Tue Jul 04 2017

Still great spot, take trail to the ocean

Tue Jun 13 2017

Awesome trail. Beach gets really windy, love it!

Sun Apr 16 2017

Very beautiful, takes you right onto the beach.

bird watching
Mon Apr 03 2017

Beautiful day for a nature walk. This is an easy walk to the ocean with plenty to see and lots to read about the area.

Sun Jan 01 2017


Mon Nov 07 2016

Absolutely relaxing hike! we'll do it again near summer

Sun Nov 06 2016

Lovely place to relax, takes you through the trees,on a little bridge above water and ends on a secluded beach where you can just be you and your thoughts. Bathrooms access at the beginning of the trail (there was no parking fee when we went), and another one closer to the beach.

Sat Sep 10 2016

Easy relaxing walk, not far to the beach.. Lots of birds and little creatures to enjoy along the way.

Mon Sep 05 2016

Nice gentle hike down the boardwalk but keep in mind there's a ranger station on your right and a $5.00 fee to park at the trailhead. You can avoid the parking fee by parallel parking on the road just outside of the trailhead parking lot. Also, it was very cold/windy so bring a jacket just in case. Have fun!

Tue Jul 19 2016

Very easy hike with a 4 year old and 2 year old. We went early morning and it was overcast, so there were tons of bugs along the bridge across the water. But once we were past the bridge, it was great! Saw about 8 wild rabbits (boys loved it!)

Load More