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I'm a self-professed adventure writer and former exercise junkie seeking a long-term relationship with my higher self, healthy workout habits, and a balanced, adventurous lifestyle in San Luis Obispo. Join me as I discover the healthy activities of SLO County, from land to sea.
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts

Sunday, March 2, 2014

San Simeon Creek Trail

Much-needed rain is drenching San Luis Obispo County this weekend. The stormy skies and howling wind are a far cry from last weekend's perfect hiking climate, when I discovered a terrific hike in the northern end of the county: San Simeon Creek Trail. This 3.3 mile pathway rambles through a seasonal wetland, a Monterey pine forest, riparian woodlands and open grassland. Along this state park trail's varied terrain and undulating hills, I caught glimpses of local wildlife, walked along land once inhabited by the Chumash and Salinan Indians, and logged an amazing workout.
  Located on Highway 1, the trailhead is a few miles north of the town of Cambria and just south of the turnoff for San Simeon Creek Campground. You can easily spot this day-use area, which has a small parking lot, public restrooms, picnic grounds, and sits directly across from Vista Point on the coast of San Simeon.
From the parking lot, look for the boardwalk's ramp. Walk to the west and you'll go straight to the beach. Head east for a few minutes and you'll soon find the entrance to the trail. 
Along the entire pathway, walkers will find plenty of vantage points to sit and take in the view.
Early in my hike I spotted these mule deer grazing in the seasonal wetland.
After entering the shaded pine forest, the noise of the nearby highway dissipated.
By the time I reached the riparian woodlands, the only sounds came from local wildlifelike flitting birds and scurrying woodrats.
Eventually this loop course leaves the forest and woodlands behind for open terrain. The Santa Lucia Mountains provide a rolling backdrop.
     After this quiet hike, I headed for an opposite experience at the beach: salty air and crashing waves to round out my excursion. I can't wait for my next adventure...when the weather clears up.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cayucos: Estero Bluffs State Park

If you're looking for a spot along the California Central Coast to peace out, Estero Bluffs State Park in Cayucos is just the place. This 355-acre coastal plain provides a hiking trail that spans nearly four miles along the Pacific Ocean's rugged cliffs. The landscape is stark and serene, the pathway is uncrowded and quiet, the air is fresh and clean. In one word: peaceful. 

The Cayucos Land Conservancy conservation efforts help keep this protected area in northern San Luis Obispo County pristine. Several times throughout the year, they offer guided hikes along the bluffs. 

 There are several entrances to the park along Highway One, just north of the beach town of Cayucos. Look for parking areas on the west side of the highway. The first entrance is marked by a windmill, directly across from San Geronimo Road. After entering the park, it's just a short walk to these stairs that transport you down to the rocky beach. 

Although along the well-marked, flat trail you'll find a few access points that allow you to get down to the beach, for the most part, the steep, crumbling bluffs keep you trailbound.

With the recent rain, tiny specks of green are popping up along the trail. Coupled with the warm winter weather San Luis Obispo County is experiencing, now is the perfect time to explore this peaceful oasis. Be sure to check the weather forecast for upcoming visits, as rain is on the horizon.

Peaceful. Serene. Tranquil.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

SLO Harmony

Grab your walking shoes, throw your kids in the car and head for Harmony Headlands State Park. Nestled between the offbeat coastal towns of Cayucos and Harmony on Highway One, this little-known San Luis Obispo County hiking spot offers a 2-mile portal to the sea. Wide open, kid-friendly trails meander along various ecosystems, transporting hikers past algae-covered endangered species, wispy grasslands, and diverse wildlife. Coyote bushes and thistles run wild, and your children can too.

Harmony Headlands is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to sunset and dogs are not permitted on the trail. To find the park, drive north past Cayucos on Highway One and look for the sign and parking lot located on the left side of the highway. If you drive all the way to the small town of Harmony, you've gone too far. 
When you begin the hike, be sure to stop on the bridge and peer over the edge—you just might spot an endangered Southwestern pond turtle splashing amidst this mucky algae-covered pond.
A few minutes on the trail and you will soon find yourself removed from civilization. The Cayucos Land Conservancy's partnership with the state park has been instrumental in maintaining and providing improvements for this four mile out-and-back trail that leads to the Estero Bluffs on the Pacific Ocean. Contact the conservancy for more information about docent-led tours, where you can learn more about the area's rich cultural history—including tales of the Chumash and Salinan Native Americans, hunter-gatherers who inhabited this area as far back as 10,000 years ago.You will also hear stories of how California acquired the land and how this parcel of over 700 acres almost ended up as a private development.
On my recent tour, I learned that over-grazing of cattle through the years has led the Medusahead and star thistle to run rampant on this land. Conservation efforts are underway to eradicate the thistle, which currently covers much of the acreage and takes over everything in its path. 
During this time of year, much of the landscape is covered in delicate thistle remnants. On some parts of the trail these dried weeds resemble arid snow, blanketing the hills.
Once you reach the gateway to the sea, hang on to your children. This is the turning point where the mostly-level trail gets a bit steep and you don't want anyone falling off the side.
On average, only 60 people per day come out on the weekends to hike this undiscovered Central Coast gem. Different seasons provide the hiker with the juncture to behold diverse flora and fauna, such as wild geese and ducks populating the ponds, and lupine and morning glory spreading across the hills. I'm grateful I encountered this obscure San Luis Obispo County pathway, and look forward to returning in the coming seasons.
Happy trails.