Steve's Paddling Page


Oso Flaco Lake
Oso Flaco Lake Boardwalk

Oso Flaco Lake is part of the California State Park OHMVR Division . While most of this area is dedicated to dunes camping and recreational vehicle riding (dune buggies, motor cycles, quads, etc.), the Oso Flaco Lake area does not allow motorized vehicle access. The trailhead begins at the parking lot (small Ranger booth and $5 fee) located 3 miles west of Highway 1 on Oso Flaco Lake Road, about 10 miles south of the town of Oceano, and 3 miles north of Guadalupe. It took a few calls to ascertain that it was OK to kayak on this small lake. I took my smallest boat, a set of wheels, and walked only a few hundred yards up the dirt road before coming to the lake. The lake is separated into northern and southern pieces by the dirt road. Paddling access to either side is through a narrow path through tule reeds. Pretty scratchy but otherwise easy. I paddled the northern section first; it is only about an acre or two in size, and bordered by thick tules. The southern section of the lake is about a half mile wide, and is bordered by very dense tules on two sides, and thick willow growths on the rest. The paddle was interesting, with nice views and many birds. There is a mile-long boardwalk that cuts across the lake and heads over the dunes to the beach. There are several wide spots with benches along the lake portion that provide excellent vantage points for birders. After paddling, I left my boat just off the path and followed the boardwalk for the mile long hike to the beach. There are restroom facilities along the way (almost to the beach).This is a very nice (and easy) hike along a boardwalk pathway through the dunes and ending at a gorgeous beach. I was there on a weekday in July, and saw a total of less than a dozen other people during the afternoon. Regretfully, I was without a camera, but you can get more info and take a look at some pictures at and

The number for the Dunes Center is 805-343-2455