Dominguez Gap Wetlands (Long Beach)

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Wetlands in the south end of the park
Wetlands in the south end of the park
California Golden Poppies, Dominguez Gap Wetlands
California Golden Poppies, Dominguez Gap Wetlands

Dominguez Gap Wetlands (Long Beach)

  • Location: Del Mar Avenue and Virginia Vista Court, Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach.  From the 405 Freeway, take the Long Beach Blvd. exit and head north for 0.2 miles.  Turn left on 36th St., go 0.3 miles and bear right on Country Club.  Go 0.3 miles and turn left on Los Cerritos Park Place.  Follow it past the side of the park to a T-junction and turn right on Del Mar.  The entrance (unmarked, just a gap in the fence) to the wetlands will be on the left in half a mile, just before Virginia Vista (a private road).  Park on the street for free, keeping in mind posted restrictions about time and days.
  • Agency: Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: Level
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Best season:  All year
  • USGS topo map: Long Beach
  • More information: Park description here; Everytrail report here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 1
0:00 - Entrance to the park on Del Mar Avenue (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
0:00 – Entrance to the park on Del Mar Avenue (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Most hikers probably won’t drive too far to visit the Dominguez Gap Wetlands, but for residents of Long Beach – the Bixby Knolls area in particular – this pleasant little pocket of open space is an enjoyable place to explore.  The park occupies a thin corridor between the 710 Freeway and the Virginia Country Club.  In addition to the attractive pools of water, this spot is a good one for birdwatching.  Ducks, blackbirds, hawks and cormorants are among the fowl that might be seen here. From Del Mar Avenue, enter the park through a gap in the chain linked fence.  Follow a wide walkway a short distance to the beginning of the loop.  There are a few benches beneath a shade structure and interpretive plaques describing the restoration process of the wetlands.

0:05 - Interpretive plaque beneath the shade shelter (times are approximate)
0:05 – Interpretive plaque beneath the shade shelter (times are approximate)

The loop can be hiked in either direction.  To go clockwise, look for a dirt walkway descending slightly (as opposed to the spur leading to the paved bike trail).  The opposite end of the loop branches off on the right in a similar manner; use this if you would prefer to hike counter-clockwise.

0:12 - Indian Paintbrush on the west trail
0:12 – Indian Paintbrush on the west trail

The trail borders the wetlands, briefly sharing a portion of the bike path, crossing under a railroad bridge before finally reaching a turnaround point at Del Amo Blvd (about 1.2 miles from the starting point).  Along the way keep an eye out for plant life including California Golden Poppies and Indian Paintbrush as well as the diverse array of birds (possibly rabbits too).  Once you reach Del Amo, turn around and follow the opposite side of the loop back to Del Mar Avenue.

0:27 - Looking back from just before Del Amo
0:27 – Looking back from just before Del Amo

Text and photography copyright 2014 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

5 comments

  1. Thanks for the info but I want to make a correction for the entrance way. The entrance way start from Del Amo where there is free parking and playground. You start from there and come back following the sign and track.

    My group followed the direction from the website and we realized it is incorrect. We hiked backward and inconvenient to find parking on the street because it is a private area. Not only that, we started off on a soft road and we didn’t know that the soft road is for horses lol.

    So for those of you who want to go there, the correct entrance way is from Del Amo. Overall, we had fun and will go again entering from Del Amo. Just watch out for coyote.

    1. Hi Sala, thank you for the update and I apologize for any inconvenience. It has been a while since the original post was written and accessibility to hikes often changes, so I will update this post as soon as I get a chance to revisit Dominguez Gap.

    2. I wouldn’t say the correct entrance is the park at Del Amo. I’d say that’s an alternative or North entrance. For me, the best entrance is the one listed originally, or the South entrance, across the street from 4062 Del Mar Ave. I have a large group of friends who walk this trail often, and two of them have had their cars broken into when parking at the North / Del Amo park and going on the trail, so I won’t park there anymore. Plus, more of the homeless frequent that park since it has open bathroom facilities in the park.

      The Southern entrance seems to be a bit more hidden, even though it’s on a public street. Though I’m not saying people can’t bust into your car if you park there, all my friends agree that it seems a bit safer and what I’d recommend. The horse trail actually extends all the way up the right side from there to the park on Del Amo, not just the soft area at the beginning.

      Though it is not very challenging of a hike, it is a nice trail to just enjoy nature and do a few loops to get your desired step count in, instead of doing it on city streets. Bunnies, little lizards, tons of area birds, ducks, swans, herons, hawks all populate the trail, so besides the wonderfully maintained landscaped flora there is plenty of animal friends to keep you company.

  2. I find the entry from bixby knolls to be much nicer than the entry from del amo blvd. frankly the del amo parking area and park, while nice, is the less attractive side of the walk way. find too much trash and of course the homeless encampments are on that side as well. the entry from bixby hill side is much easier if you exit long beach blvd off the the 405, head north and turn left on san antonio, right onto del mar. follow the rest of the instructions above. right before the private virginia estates, there will be an open gate which leads to the walkaways – left or right – and a nice loop around the entire wetlands. for what its worth as of 10/11/21 – where i just walked my two dogs around the loop….

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