The trails of Huntington Beach
There are two designated nature trails and a number of other places where you can take some pleasant walks. Both the trails and walkways provide for places to see birds, other wildlife and get some exercise.
Kerrigan Nature Trail
This short trail begins behind the park office building, which is located in the main parking lot of Huntington Beach State Park. The trail passes through a short stretch of pine forest that brings you to the edge of the large freshwater pond you see when you enter the park. At the waters edge you will find a short boardwalk and a gazebo like viewing platform. Numerous species of birds can typically be found here and this is also a good place to try and see alligators. They are often floating in the water or basking on structures that are jutting out of the water. There is another similarly situated boardwalk/gazebo that is easier to access and is found close to the causeway road. This more remote viewing platform on the Kerrigan nature trail is less busy so typically can offer some better bird watching.
Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail
This two mile plus trail has two trailheads with parking areas. It also connects to the park road it parallels in three other places, has a spur that leads to the beach and connects with the park's campground. The southern trailhead is adjacent to, but on the opposite side of the road from, the Education Center. The northern trailhead is located at the end of the park road that leads north from the Education Center.
Strarting from the northern end the trail begins at a viewing platform that overlooks the brackish waters of Sandpiper Pond. The trail parallels the park road, meandering through a long stretch of land found just behind the beach dunes. The trail then follows the western side of the pond, where there are more viewing platforms, and passes through maritime forest. Towards the southern trailhead the trail can be a bit tricky to follow. There are forks that connect to the campground and to a dune crossing boardwalk that leads to the beach.
The Road to Atalaya
The road that originally connected Atalaya to the main road is now a nicely paved wide trail through a lovely stretch of forest. It can be a wonderful way to get a bit of exercise while walking along a path that is surrounded on both sides by forest.
Nature Center/Salt Marsh Boardwalk
Salt marsh is one of the most extensive habitats in the park, running along the parks western section from the park road causeway to the edge of Murrel's Inlet. One of the nicest ways to experience the marsh is to venture out onto the long boardwalk that begins at the Eduction Center. It takes you out over the marsh and includes a number of informative interpretive signs.
Walking along the beach can also be a great hike. With the exception of a few easy to get to access points, most of the beach is relatively isolated. If you drive to the northern most parking lot in the park, you could walk north on the beach and walk over a mile to get to the inlet that marks one boundary of Huntington Beach State Park. There is a fishing jetty at the inlet and it can be a good place to see a variety of sea birds. During some parts of the year, access to the northern most portions of the beach and the park is restricted to protect critical nesting habitat for nesting birds.