History of Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California

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Residents of the Golden State of California have been blessed with a rare, unexplainable gem called Lower Trestles.  Bordering San Diego and Orange County, Lowers is a world-class river mouth beach break with some of the most rippable waves on the planet.  Home to the much-anticipated ASP World Tour stop, the Hurley Pro, there’s no wonder why the world’s best often find a second home near this rippable wave. With an interesting story involving a political debate with the United States military base in close proximity, you can thank President Richard Nixon for allowing Trestles to remain open to the public to this day. 


Trestles is famous for it’s many prime surf spots, including Cottons, Uppers, Lowers, Middles and Churchs. Photo: Surf Channel/Nick Borrelli



What could possibly stop you from pitching a tent and calling it home?  Most likely the 50+ surfers that have been battling for priority on this high performance wave every day for the past 40 years.  With over 30 different heated competitive events, Lowers is no secret to the world of surfing. Tom Curren, Christian Fletcher, Kelly Slater, Jeff Booth, Shane Beschen, Taylor Knox, Rob Machado, CJ Hobgood, Andy Irons, Gabe Kling, Miguel Pupo and Gabriel Medina are just a few of the elite athletes to dominate these heated competitive surf events in the past 30 years.


The 2012 Nike Lowers Pro Champion, Gabriel Medina (BRA), boosts for the crowd. Photo: Surf Channel/Emily Goodman



 Where did it all begin?  Believe it or not we can bow down to the Lowers rescuer, President Richard Nixon for allowing Trestles to remain open to the public to this day.  In the 1970’s the Marine Corp had the local San Clemente surf breaks on ball and chain, allowing no public access to these world renown waves.  We can thank Nixon’s close colleagues who were active members in the San Onofre Surf Club who pleaded that Trestles was a surfer’s heaven and without it, surfing would never be the same.  After much convincing, the birth of a California State Park was the golden ticket to public access of some of the world’s most incredible beach breaks.  It was at the same time, however, that surfing became what seemed to be dormant with hardly anyone pursuing competition. Then the Southerland Pro was hatched as the first professional surf competition at Trestles in 1977.  California frothers were thankfully awakened by the suave carves of both Aussie and Hawaiian elitists that instantly inspired surf innovation in California.


John John Florence (HAW) makin’ it look easy during the Nike Lowers 2012 competition. Photo: Surf Channel/Emily Goodman



Today, California’s world-class gem is highly threatened by the California Transportation Corridor Agency who desires to construct a 16 mile long, six lanes wide toll road that will travel through San Onofre State Beach, a habitat reserve in Orange County and then meet the San Diego Freeway at Trestles.  The repercussions for construction of this toll road will mean damage to the environment and local Native American Tribe Panhe, as well as loss of recreational areas and park camping that are vital to the Lowers culture.  It is up to the people to make a stand and save one of the most high performance waves on the planet, Lower Trestles.   


Lower Trestles has some of the most rippable waves in the world. Photo: Surf Channel/Nick Borrelli

Don’t miss the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles!  For more information about Trestles and ASP Lowers Competitions, check out these links! 



(682 Posts)

As a college graduate from California State University, Long Beach, Emily enters the world with a Bachelor's Degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies and a passion for surfing, cultural diversity and serving others.


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