Rules & Reg

Endangered light-footed clapper rail

Endangered Ridgway rail

Several endangered species of bird nest in Upper Newport Bay (UNB). Their wetland and upland homes are very delicate and easily damaged. For any further information about what is permissible in the Ecological Reserve, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information about the Nature Preserve, contact the County of Orange, Parks.

Click on map to enlarge/view of all the designated trails at the Bay.


  • Walk, bike or horseback ride only in established trails, paths and other designated areas. Keep dogs and cats inside vehicles, or on leashes no longer than 6 ft.
  • Drive or ride motor vehicles and bikes on designated roads and stop or park in designated areas only.
  • Launch and land non-motorized boats only at designated launch sites at the Newport Dunes or the Newport Aquatic Center at North Star Beach.
  • Fish* from the shore at North Star Beach, the rocky outcrop between San Joaquin Hills Rd. and Big Canyon, or at the Jamboree Road bridge. Commercial fishing is not permitted.
  • Swim only at North Star Beach.

Please do not:

  • Feed the wildlife. Feeding birds and animals makes them dependent on humans and entices them into open areas where they are vulnerable to predators.
  • Release any fish or animal, including domestic species, or introduce plants.
  • Disturb any form of plant or animal life: birds, nests or eggs, plants, mammals, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, or reptiles.
  • Collect specimens unless you have a special Upper Newport Bay permit from the Fish and Wildlife Commission and a scientific collecting permit.
  • Fire or discharge any firearm, bow and arrow, air or gas gun or any other weapon.
  • Smoke on trails.
  • Camp overnight.
  • Walk on the mudflats. You can and will get stuck.
  • Land any craft on any island or shore of the Bay.
  • Boat, canoe, or kayak in any side channel of the Bay or beyond the posted boating limit.
  • No flying of drones or other remote craft.

The Upper Newport Bay is also a State Marine Conservation Area.  Per the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Guide to Southern California’s MPAs, the California Code Regulations, Title 14, Section 632, subsection b(110) define UNB as:
(A) This area includes the waters below the mean high tide line within Upper Newport Bay northeastward of Pacific Coast Highway approximated by a line between the following two points:
33° 37.02’ N. lat. 117° 54.24’ W. long.;
33° 37.02’ N. lat. 117° 54.32’ W. long.; and southwestward of Jamboree Road approximated by a line between the following two points:
33° 39.07’ N. lat. 117° 52.02’ W. long.; and
33° 39.03’ N. lat. 117° 52.01’ W. long.

Permitted/Prohibited Uses:
(B) Take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of finfish [subsection 632(a)(2)] by hook and line from shore only, or take pursuant to activities authorized under subsection 632(b)(132)(D), is allowed.

(C) In waters below the mean high tide line inside the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, northeastward of a line connecting Shellmaker Island (33° 37.20’ N. lat. 117° 53.51’ W. long.) and North Star Beach (33° 37.38’ N. lat. 117° 53.60’ W. long.) the following restrictions apply:
(1) Swimming is allowed only in the area between North Star Beach and mid-channel.
(2) Boats are limited to speeds less than five miles per hour.
(3) Shoreline access is limited to established trails, paths, or other designated areas.

(D) Maintenance dredging, habitat restoration, research and education programs, maintenance of artificial structures, and operation and maintenance of existing facilities inside the conservation area is allowed pursuant to any required federal, state and local permits, or activities pursuant to Section 630, or as otherwise authorized by the department.

*Finfish are defined here as any species of bony fish or cartilaginous fish (sharks, skates and rays).