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History of Montaña de Oro

The human history of Montaña de Oro State Park begins with the Chumash people who lived here long before the first European explorers arrived. It’s been estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 Chumash people lived across California’s Central Coast between Morro Bay and Malibu. In 1542, Spanish explorers noted how open and welcoming the Chumash people were when they greeted them from their canoes. The Mission Period began when Don Gaspar de Portola came to claim this stretch of coastline for Spain. Sadly, with the introduction of European viruses, most of the Chumash people died. Those who survived fled their villages, and the Chumash way of life all but disappeared. Remnants of Chumash culture like middens (ancient refuse heaps) can still be found throughout Montaña de Oro State Park. After Mexico ceded Alta California to the U.S. in 1848, ownership of Montaña de Oro changed several times, as did its borders. Part of Montaña de Oro, called Rancho Cañada de los Osos, combined with Rancho Pecho y Islay to the south to comprise 32,431 acres.

Key Facts About Montaña de Oro

In 1892, Alden B. Spooner established a section of that property as Pecho Ranch & Stock Co., with a dairy, ranch and row crops. He built a home, sheds, stables, a creamery, barns and even a water mill for power. Spooner and his sons made use of a nearby cove by building a warehouse, chute, and a boom to load steamers below. To the north, Alexander S. Hazard established agricultural crops as well as a dairy. He also planted a forest of eucalyptus trees, hoping to sell timber across the state. Sadly, eucalyptus trees produce wood unfit for commercial uses. (The mistake was a common one across the Central Coast, as evidenced by the thousands of eucalyptus trees across the Central Coast.) Hazard Canyon saw several natural events in the 1940s, including a flood and a wildfire that burned down Hazard’s diary. The property transferred from a rancher named Oliver C. Field to Irene McAllister in the 1950s. (McAllister is the one to first call the land Montaña de Oro ― “mountains of gold” ― for the poppies and wildflowers that grow there.) The property went into bankruptcy in the 1960s, during which California Governor Pat Brown launched a park acquisition program. The state stepped in to purchase Montaña de Oro and it became a state park on April 24, 1965. Today, Rancho Montaña de Oro is some of the most untouched publicly-owned land in the state. Virtually hike the trails on Google here. Bluffs Hike in Montana De Oro State Park

Hiking in Montaña De Oro State Park

Bluff Trail

This 3.4-mile out-and-back trail skirts rugged coastline, bluffs, and tide pools. Look for the trailhead near the Montaña de Oro visitor center and Spooner Ranch House. The trail begins with a wooden bridge, followed by ocean vistas. After a half mile, stop at Corallina Cove or continue hiking for more primitive trail to Quarry Cove.

Valencia Peak Trail

At 4.5 miles round trip and 1,275 feet in elevation, this hike offers a 360-degree view in return for hard work! The peak itself is 1,347 feet and one of Montaña de Oro State Park’s tallest. The hike begins at the parking area just beyond Spooner’s Cove, across from the Bluff Trail trailhead. Take the single-track Valencia Peak Trail inland through wild sage, a series of switchbacks and some steep terrain. At the top, sit at the picnic table and enjoy views of Morro Rock, Cerro Cabrillo and Point Buchon. The trail requires no fee or permit, but bring sunscreen as the hike offers little to no shade. No dogs.

Hazard Peak Trail

This essential Central Coast hike offers clear views of Morro Bay and beyond from its 1,076-foot peak. Round-trip, the hike spans 6 miles and climbs an elevation of 950 feet. Unlike the Valencia Peak Trail, Hazard Peak Trail ascends steadily, rather than steeply. Stay to the right throughout and pass by sagebrush, eucalyptus groves and expanding views of the ocean. At the top, find benches and a picnic table for taking in the 360-degree view. The trail doesn’t require a fee or permit, but remember that dogs aren’t allowed on the trail. To reach the trail, just after entering the park find the trailhead on the left, before Spooner’s Cove. Park on either side of the road.

Islay Creek Trail

At 6 miles round trip, the Islay Creek Trail offers a gentle canyon hike with access to a small waterfall. Elevation gain clocks in at just 300 feet. Start the trail at the mouth of a stream at Spooner’s Cove. Take the dirt trail inland from Spooner’s Cove, past the Islay Creek Campground. Look for great views of both Valencia Peak and Hazard Peak. Find a waterfall after just 1.4 miles in Islay Creek. At 3 miles into the trail, turn at the abandoned barn for a 6-mile-total hike. Fees and permits are not required. No dogs.

Oats Peak Trail

At 1,373 feet tall, Oats Peak lies further inland from Valencia Peak, but offers better views of the Irish Hills to the east. A gradual trail with plenty of switchbacks ascends 1,325 feet over 10.8 miles, round trip. Along the way, wide open views abound. To begin, find the trailhead behind the Spooner Ranch House along the road to Islay Creek Campground. A sign for the Reservoir Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail stands beside a dirt trail. Any time a junction mentions the “Old Oaks Peat Trail,” stick with the New Oats Peak Trail, as it is complete and more gradual. (Most trail intersections are marked well along the way.) Along the ascent, find patches of shade, a trickling stream, and expansive views of the ocean. Note: the last 0.15 mile section of the trail is the steepest, but it’s worth the effort! Find picturesque views of Morro Rock and the San Simeon coastline beyond at the summit.

Reservoir Flats Trail

This two-mile loop takes in a 200-foot elevation gain and offers a variety of views. Find the trailhead between the Spooner Ranch House and the Islay Creek Campground entrance, marked by a sign. After 0.3 miles, bear left at the junction of Reservoir Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail. Walk through the empty reservoir which once served the Spooner home below. Enjoy a forested walk through a canyon of cottonwood trees and oaks. At the edge of the Islay Creek Campground, walk through the campground to return to the trailhead to finish.

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Mountain Biking in Montaña de Oro

Picturesque views and well-maintained trails make Montaña de Oro State Park a mountain biker’s paradise. Depending on the trail, a full suspension bike is best (but not necessarily essential) for most. Note that hikers and bikers share trails; please use a bell for the safety of everyone on the trail. Bluff Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2.3 miles, point to point Elevation: +142 feet / -77 feet Avg / Max Grade: 2% / 6% Type: Doubletrack Hazard Peak Trail Difficulty: Easy/intermediate Distance: 4.1 miles point to point Elevation: +915 feet / -308 feet Avg / Max Grade: 6% / 12% Type: Singletrack Islay Creek Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles, point to point Elevation: +68 feet / -352 feet Avg / Max Grade: 3% / 7% Type: Doubletrack Oats Peak Trail Difficulty: Intermediate Distance: 11.3, out and back Elevation: +1,433 feet / -1,438 feet Avg / Max Grade: 5% / 36% Type: Singletrack Reservoir Flats Trail Difficulty: Easy/intermediate Distance: 2 mile loop Elevation: +132 feet / -187 feet Max Grade: 4.4% Type: Singletrack

Free Hiking and MTB Maps

The Highway 1 Discovery Route Stewardship Travel Program partners with local organizations to offer free hiking and mountain biking maps. Visitors and local residents are invited to download free maps for trails across Highway 1.

Volunteer Trail Work Days

As part of the Stewardship Travel Program, volunteers are welcome year-round to help build, restore and maintain hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. All work day events and classes are organized by the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers group, a non-profit organization since 1987. They require no experience to jump in and help! The annual volunteer trail workday in Montaña de Oro State Park is the first Sunday in February. Opportunities for volunteering on trail restoration include at least one trail work session per month. Two major workdays are offered each year and are called TRAILWERKS: all-day events with free meals, tee shirts, and raffle prizes for participants. The Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers group encourages everyone who enjoys California trail systems to volunteer for workdays as well as practice important trail etiquette that helps prevent trail erosion, reduces user conflicts, and ensures trail access. More detailed information, trail guidelines, and volunteer locations can be found at their website. And if you can’t join a trail work day, consider donating toward the purchase of trail building tools for volunteers.

Montaña de Oro Tide Beaches

Beaches at Montaña de Oro State Park include quaint, protected coves, long stretches of sand, remote shores and ideal surfing conditions.

Spooner’s Cove Beach

At the point where Islay Creek drains into the ocean, Spooner’s Cove Beach offers a comfortable place to wade, explore tidepools, and picnic. Interesting rock formations invite climbers to play, particularly at low tide. The beach lies just across the street from the Islay Creek Campground, and allows dogs (on leash). As a central point in Montaña de Oro State Park, many trails begin nearby. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, and free parking. Find Spooner’s Cove Beach to the right, just before the campground.

Sandspit Beach

This long beach begs for long walks on soft sand, and the dunes beg for jumping! The sand spit that gives the beach its name continues north, almost all the way to Morro Bay. Amenities at Sandspit Beach include restrooms, free parking and picnic tables. To find the beach, make a right into the Sandspit day-use area, and look for parking at the end of the road. Then make the short walk on a trail to the beach. Enjoy views or Morro Rock and watch surfers ride the waves. Note: Sandspit Beach is an advanced surfing area. Sharks have been known to swim in these waters; surf at your own risk.

Hazard Canyon Reef

A dramatic, rocky section of coastline, Hazard Canyon Reef is one of the best tide-pooling locations in the state. Visit at low tide to see creatures like sea anemones, urchins, sea stars, and crabs in abundance. (Check tide information for best times to tidepool.) Other activities include walking 1.5 miles to Sandspit Beach to the north, and perhaps even several miles further into Morro Bay State Park. Find sand dunes near the parking lot to jump, roll and play on. Explore the reef by following the trail north from the parking lot to a deep drop to the water. Amenities include free parking and equestrian use. Surfing is also popular here, though this is an advanced surfing area; do so at your own risk. To find this beach, enter the park, pass the eucalyptus grove and look for the Hazard Canyon Parking sign.

Coon Creek Beach

The most remote and untouched of Montaña de Oro’s beaches, Coon Creek sits at the southern end of the park. To reach the beach, drive to the end of Pecho Valley Road (the park’s main thoroughfare) park, and follow the Point Buchon Trail to the beach, only open Thursday through Monday. Enjoy tidepools and caves, but remember there are no facilities for visitors to Coon Creek Beach. Spooner's Cove, Los Osos

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Montaña de Oro Camping Overview

Camping in Montaña de Oro allows visitors from across the globe to experience California in its natural state. With nearby hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, surfing, and fishing, these campsites can be reserved at ReserveCalifornia.com.

Islay Creek Campground

This secluded campground with coastal views offers 50 campsites during summer and 25 during winter. With some shade from pine and Monterey cypress trees, each site can accommodate up to 8 people. The campground also offers six primitive sites for backpackers and equestrian sites for those with horses. Trailers, vans, RVs up to 27 feet, pets and campfires are all allowed. Amenities include fire pits, primitive toilets, electrical hookups, potable water and picnic tables. Reservations are essential during summer months, and first-come, first-served during winter. Islay Creek Campground is open year-round. Find the campground entrance just across from Spooner’s Cove, along a half-mile-long loop.

Hazard Canyon Equine Camp

This campground offers 40 sites for either tents or RVs and 4-5 horses each. (Note: electrical hook-ups are not available here.) Two group sites (Madrone and Oak) accommodate up to 50 people and 16-18 horses. Amenities include stalls, pit toilets, fire rings and water for horses. Guests are asked to muck-out their stalls, bring potable water, and keep dogs off equestrian trails. Campers must have a horse to camp at Hazard Canyon Equine Camp. Find the entrance to the horse camp to the left almost immediately after entering the park.

Environmental Campsites

For more options for camping in Montaña de Oro, try hiking into one of its four environmental, primitive sites. These sites can accommodate up to 8 people, but note that they do not allow dogs or campfires. Fees for environmental campsites are $25 per site, per night, plus $10 per vehicle. Environmental campsites can be reserved at the Islay Creek Campground. Find the Bloody Nose Camp and Hazard Grove Camp just north of the Islay Creek Campground. Badger Flat Camp and Deer Flat Camp can be found to the south of the Islay Creek Campground.

Spooner Ranch House

No visit to Montaña de Oro State Park is complete without a visit to the old Spooner Ranch House. Built in 1892, this historic building houses a museum, gift shop and general store for the park. Learn about the Central Coast’s rich agricultural, cultural and natural history with a self-guided tour of the house, which has been lovingly restored by volunteers. Find the Spooner Ranch House just before the Islay Creek Campground, across from Spooner’s Cove. Spooner Ranch House, Los Osos [post_title] => Montaña de Oro State Park [post_excerpt] => This park features rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, including 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => montana-de-oro-state-park [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-30 06:57:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-30 14:57:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/montantildea-de-oro-state-park/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 118214 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-06-10 22:04:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-11 06:04:07 [post_content] => Looking for an ideal California beach town with history, charm and boutique shopping? Cayucos is your destination. Its quaint downtown boasts field-to-table restaurants, antique stores, public art and cafes ― all just steps from the beach. Add a few historic buildings, surf shops, and an old cowboy bar, and you have California coastal living at its finest. Even better, Cayucos residents dine, shop, and connect in all the same places as visitors. Ready to make like a local? Use our guide for the best spots to discover the essence of the California coast.

Cayucos History

Cayucos’ history begins with the Chumash and Salinan people who first settled here, thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The word cayucos comes from the Spanish for the canoes those first residents used, as named by early explorers. The famed Portola expedition camped near Cayucos in the mid-18th century, and many other explorers passed through as well. In 1867, Captain James Cass made the founding of Cayucos official, as we know it today. With the local dairy industry growing, he took advantage of Cayucos’ ideal position and built a port from which to ship goods. He established a warehouse and built the Cayucos Pier for steamers to collect and dispatch shipments across California. Many of Cayucos’ dairy farms ― and descendents from those ranching families ― remain in the area today. Captain Cass’ home also stands downtown, restored into a charming restaurant, inn and event venue called Cass House Cayucos. https://www.youtube.com/embed/4DzL8hhRVVU

Eat in Downtown Cayucos

The Grill at The Cass House

An elegant stop on any itinerary, Cass House Cayucos combines rich history with fresh flavors. Dine at The Grill, where local, seasonal ingredients meet a curated international wine list. Or visit the Cass House Bakery, where muffins, scones, quiche and focaccia are baked fresh daily. Find the Cass House Cayucos at the north end of North Ocean Avenue. Cass House Grill Cayucos Sea Shanty in Cayucos

Sea Shanty

A visit to Cayucos deserves a meal at this beloved casual eatery. Grab breakfast or a cup of coffee (do not miss the world-famous cinnamon rolls!) before a walk on the beach. Or, if you’re hunting down lunch or dinner, get a tall burger, juicy steak, or crispy fish ‘n chips. If dessert is your thing, you’ll struggle to pick just one from the Sea Shanty’s many decadent desserts. (Try the “Rocky Mountain High Pie” with marshmallow-rice crust, rocky road ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter and white chocolate topping. Or the “Mudd Pie,” with chocolate cookie crust and butter pecan ice cream.) As you lick your spoon, check out the ceiling’s 1,000 hanging ball caps, or enjoy the comfort of the heated patio. Find the Sea Shanty on South Ocean Avenue, at the corner of Ocean Avenue and North 3rds Street.

Ruddell’s Smokehouse

A favorite of Sunset Magazine, Westways, and even Bobby Flay of the Food Network, this pint-sized eatery makes a big impression. Just a few steps from the sand, Ruddell’s smokes a range of meats ― think oysters, ahi, chicken and pork. Then, those meats are sold for take-away, or they get folded into decadent tacos made with house sauce and fresh salsa. The local favorite? Smoked albacore tacos. But vegetarians, never fear: Ruddell’s has you covered with smoked black bean tacos. Find Ruddell’s at the corner of Ocean Front Street and D Street, overlooking Cayucos State Beach. Ruddell's Smokehouse in Cayucos Brown Butter Cookie Company Cayucos

Brown Butter Cookie Company

This one-of-a-kind sweet shop claims that “butter makes everything better.” If that’s true, the Brown Butter Cookie Company makes its customers feel like a million bucks. Crafted from a short list of ingredients ― browned butter, sugar, flour and sea salt ― these cookies have fans worldwide. Try the original Brown Butter Cookie, or venture out into other flavors like espresso, almond, cinnamon and coconut lime. For those who go gluten-free, the Brown Butter Cookie Company bakes several flavors without gluten. So grab a sample in the shop or purchase a box to bring home...if they make it that far. Find the Brown Butter Cookie Company on North Ocean Avenue, between D and E Streets.

Old Cayucos Tavern

While the Cass House shows Cayucos’ elegant history, the Old Cayucos Tavern shows its more rugged side. Established in 1906, in the wake of the California Gold Rush, this cowboy saloon still attracts visitors from far and wide. Sit at the bar, enjoy live music, or head to the back rooms for poker on Friday and Saturday nights. Marvel at the many hundreds of dollar bills stuck to ceiling, or the “interesting” art on the walls. (You have to see to understand.) No matter what you do at the Old Cayucos Tavern, you’re sure to get a taste of its long history ― and a stiff drink. Find the Old Cayucos Tavern on North Ocean Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Cayucos town at night Cayucos Main Street

Cafe della Via

This Old World trattoria brings a bit of Italy to Cayucos. Traditional dishes get a California twist, like orecchiette pasta tossed with sautéed shrimp in a white wine cream sauce, or savory pizzas on house-made crust. The thoughtful wine list includes local favorites as well as Italian bottles. Caffe della Via can be found on North Ocean Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive.

Schooner’s

A fan favorite, Schooner’s has served fresh seafood, steaks, fish ‘n chips and burgers since 1993. The upstairs patio is unrivaled in terms of coastal views, and the nautical theme enhances the experience. Be sure to check the wine and beer lists, or try a craft cocktail and watch the sun set over the Pacific. Schooner’s is located on North Ocean Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Schooner's Restaurant in Cayucos, CA

Duckie’s Chowder House

If you love clam chowder, you’ll be in clam heaven at Duckie’s. Here, they dish up both New England chowder (cream-based) and Manhattan Clam Chowder (tomato-based)l. To up the ante, try your chowder “Nolan-style” with bacon and croutons. Duckie’s also offers fish tacos, steamers and fish ‘n chips, as well as salads, sandwiches and sides. Wash it all down with a locally-made beer or glass of wine from their drinks list. And don’t forget the little duckies! Duckie’s takes care of the kids with a menu offering burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese and fish ‘n chips. Find Duckie’s at the start of the Cayucos Pier, at 55 Cayucos Drive.

Shopping in Cayucos

Main Street Antiques

This fun and rambling antique store carries a wide range of period furniture and collectibles. In its nooks and crannies, find anything from vintage trunks, model trains, cast-iron cookware or even a phone booth. The knowledgeable staff often has the backstory on the shop’s many treasures. Whatever tickles your fancy, you’re sure to find a bit of history to take home here. Main Street Antiques is located on North Ocean Avenue, between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Cayucos antique faire

Remember When Antique Malls

Split across two locations, the Remember When Antique Malls bring vintage kitchenware, furnishings, clothing and more to downtown Cayucos. Find collectibles like Fiestaware, milk glass and depression glass pieces on the shelves. Restored shabby-chic furniture is also on display, with headboards, coffee tables, desks and dressers throughout. Lace, linens, jewelry and artwork: you name it, and it’s probably tucked away here. Remember When is located on North Ocean Avenue, between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Remember When Too can be found one block south, between D Street and E Street.

Good Clean Fun

Need help getting outfitted for your Cayucos beach adventure? Good Clean Fun takes fun very seriously. Wander into the surf shop for towels, sandals and toys, or head to the “Board Loft” for surfboards, bodyboards and skateboards. Good Clean Fun rents surfboards, bodyboards, wetsuits, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) for day use. For kayak tours of the coastline, kayak fishing tours or surf lessons, they are the experts. (Just be sure to make a reservation, as these are very popular!) To visit, find Good Clean Fun on Ocean Front Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive.

Events in Downtown Cayucos

Cayucos Farmers’ Market

Start a long summer weekend in Cayucos with the Cayucos Farmers’ Market, held Fridays, 10am-12:30pm, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Vendor booths burst with a wide variety of ripe produce, picked that morning. Bread, jam, juices and flowers can also often be found here, among other goodies. And don’t forget live music: nothing beats tapping your toes while shopping for fresh, local produce and products. The Cayucos Farmers’ Market is held at the corner of Ocean Avenue and D Street. Cayucos farmers market https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-QcHpoAp9w

Sea Glass Festival

This favorite annual event features sea glass ―the result of glass that’s worn and smoothed by tumbling in the sea. A collaboration between man-made materials and nature’s process, sea glass is prized by collectors across the globe. On the first weekend in March, many of those collectors descend on downtown Cayucos to celebrate these unique “gems.” Find jewelers and artists who use seaglass for their pieces, as well as live music and plenty of food. Look for “Mermaid March” displays of mermaids throughout the month of March in many local businesses. And don’t miss the Mermaid Ball in the evening, featuring dancing, a chowder cook-off, and prizes for the best-dressed mermaid and mer-couple. The Sea Glass Festival is held at the Veterans Hall at 10 Cayucos Drive in downtown Cayucos.

Polar Bear Dip

Every New Year’s Day, over 1,000 people plunge into the frosty waves for the Carlin Soulé Memorial Polar Bear Dip. All ages come out to pack the beach for this beloved local tradition, featuring crazy costumes, hilarious team names and drum circles. Festivities beginning at 9:30am by the Cayucos Pier, and the dip takes place at noon every January 1st. Cayucos Polar Bear Plunge

Cayucos Wine & Food Festival

For wine lovers and foodies, the annual Cayucos Wine & Food Festival gathers boutique wineries from the area for a memorable grand tasting. Chefs and area restaurants pair dishes with the wines, and local artists and jewelers show their work. The event also features live music from local musicians. Each ticket includes all wine tasting, small bites, and a commemorative Riedel glass. The Cayucos Wine & Food Festival takes place each November in downtown Cayucos.

Semi-Annual Cayucos Antique Street Faire

Every October and May, antique vendors occupy multiple blocks of Ocean Avenue to sell treasures, art, and memorabilia. This semi-annual antique faire brings collectors and antique-hunters from all over the world in the hopes of scoring a find. The street faire also features live music and food available for purchase. The Cayucos Antique Street Faire takes place along Ocean Avenue in downtown Cayucos.

Cayucos 4th of July Celebration

Nothing says “summer fun” quite like the 4th of July in Cayucos. Every year, the town puts on its red, white and blue for a boisterous, quirky parade down Ocean Avenue. Locals and visitors alike pack the sidewalk to celebrate the many hometown heroes, businesses, and clubs that take part. But the 4th of July Celebration is a whole-day affair! Before the parade, witness the annual sand sculpture contest, open to all ages, that takes over Cayucos Beach. And following the parade, dine on delicious barbecue prepared by the Cayucos Lion’s Club at the Veterans Hall downtown. In the afternoon, the Cayucos Lionesses host a major game of bingo, open to all, at the Veterans Hall. And once evening descends, people stake out a spot along the beach for a festive fireworks display from the Cayucos Pier. The annual Cayucos 4th of July Celebration takes place across downtown Cayucos between Highway 1 exit 284 and B Street.

Checkout the Cayucos Activities Map

Download [post_title] => Downtown Cayucos [post_excerpt] => The quaint downtown of Cayucos boasts field-to-table restaurants, antique stores, public art and cafes ― all just steps from the beach. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => downtown-cayucos [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-10 22:43:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-11 06:43:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=118214 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 118163 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-06-02 21:29:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-03 05:29:05 [post_content] => Though the population of sweet, beachy Cayucos hovers below 3,000 people, nearly 30,000 people descend on the town for 4th of July every year. Why? Because Cayucos has perfected its patriotic festivities over the course of several decades. Visitors even plan their year around the 4th of July in Cayucos, to connect with friends who do the same, year after year. Here, there’s fun for the whole family, all day long! The action starts with a sand sculpture contest, followed by a hometown parade, barbecue, bingo, and fireworks off Cayucos Pier. It’s no wonder folks settle in for the whole day here: the setting is quaint and the festivities make everyone feel like family. See for yourself to find out why, when it comes to the 4th, nothing beats small, seaside Cayucos.

2019 4th of July Schedule in Cayucos

An octopus sand sculpture on the beach in Cayucos, CA

Sand Sculpture Contest

Early on the morning of the 4th of July, artists of all ages and skill levels come out to Cayucos State Beach for an epic Sand Sculpture Contest. Visitors, locals, adults and children take their time in the sand very seriously as they compete for best in show. Past sand sculptures have included mermaids, hippopotamuses, sea turtles, castles, forts, and even sports cars. To enter, show up to the Cayucos Pier starting at 5 A.M. to claim your spot and start sculpting. Otherwise, grab coffee and a muffin from Luna Coffee Bar (82 Ocean Avenue) and watch the magic anytime between 5 A.M. and 8 A.M.

4th of July Parade

The centerpiece of all Cayucos Independence Day fun, this homespun parade is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Community choirs, bands, businesses, and clubs take part in walking Ocean Avenue to the delight of thousands of spectators. The red, white and blue fly high on quirky floats, classic cars and towering unicycles. Witness decades-long friendly rivalries between float building families that vie for the coveted sweepstakes prize every year. Zany, kooky, and decidedly over-the-top, this beloved parade through downtown Cayucos will put anyone in a patriotic mood. The parade begins at 10am on July 4th and travels north along Ocean Avenue. Set up chairs and blankets on Ocean Avenue sidewalks after 6 P.M. on July 3rd, but keep driveways and shop doorways clear. Planning tip: Parking can be extremely challenging on the 4th, particularly along side streets. Some folks arrive during the Sand Sculpture Contest (5 A.M. - 8 A.M.) to secure parking for the parade. Otherwise, try carpooling, ridesharing (e.g. Uber, Lyft), or using public transportation to reach the parade. Note that parking along bridges and Highway 1 off-ramp shoulders will result in fines and/or towing. 4th of July parade in Cayucos, CA Cayucos 4th of July parade

Lion’s BBQ and Lioness Bingo at the Vets Hall

A longstanding tradition, the Lion’s Club of Cayucos holds a delicious barbecue every 4th of July, from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. at the Veterans Hall. Get ready to taste some of the best local tri-tip and barbecued chicken around. (Other dining options include restaurants along Ocean Avenue as well as food vendors along Ocean Front Avenue, facing the beach.) When you’ve polished your plate, settle in for a fast-paced game of bingo, hosted by the Lions Club Lionesses in the tent next door. Held from 1 P.M. to 4 P.M., the proceeds benefit local children’s programs. If you choose to play bingo, be sure to bring cash for bingo cards and pull tabs! The Veterans Hall is located at 10 Cayucos Drive, just beside the Cayucos Pier in downtown Cayucos.

Cayucos Fireworks

A spectacular fireworks display awaits those lucky enough to visit Cayucos on the 4th of July. At 9 P.M., after a long day’s revelling, the town’s residents and visitors turn out to see fireworks launched from the Cayucos Pier. Pack a picnic for pre-show nibbles, or find most restaurants open for dinner before the fireworks begin to fly. Be sure to bring a blanket, jacket, and low-backed chair. But be warned: like everything in Cayucos on the 4th of July, space is limited! Arrive early to get the best view possible. Cayucos fireworks on the 4th of July [post_title] => 4th of July in Cayucos [post_excerpt] => Cayucos has perfected its patriotic festivities over the course of several decades. Visitors even plan their year around the 4th of July in Cayucos, to connect with friends who do the same, year after year. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 4th-of-july-in-cayucos [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-04 13:30:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-04 21:30:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=118163 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 112919 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-04-24 20:31:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-25 04:31:04 [post_content] => Of the 101 miles of coastline in San Luis Obispo County, half are protected shoreline. In other words, the odds are good that surf, sand and sun are always within reach here. The Central Coast boasts some of the best beaches in the U.S., and certainly on the West Coast. What sets them apart? Think miles of white sand, uncrowded, untouched ― and unbelievably scenic. Visitors can find a spectrum of options, with ideal beaches for sunbathing, beachcombing, wildlife viewing, surfing, tidepooling, doggie fun or even dune-driving. No matter your idea of the perfect vacation, the beaches between Big Sur and Nipomo have you covered.

When To Visit

Due to temperate weather, the Central Coast’s beaches can be visited comfortably year-round. But depending on your goals, a bit of planning and insider info goes a long way.  For sunny family fun, swimming and kayaking, the months of July through October offer the best weather. For surfing, winter tends to be the best season for wind and swells. (Just bring a wetsuit! Central Coast waters can be quite chilly.) Opportunities for whale watching, bird watching, and elephant seal mating and birthing peak in winter to early spring. Beachcombing, pet play, horseback riding, tidepooling and driving on the beach occur year-round.

What To Bring

Weather tends to be temperate but can be changeable, so layered clothing is recommended. Bring towels, sunscreen, sand toys, boogie boards/surfboards, wetsuits, bottled water, snacks and beach blankets.

Best Beaches for Families on the Central Coast Along Highway 1

Avila Beach

Pick your perfect paradise on one of the best family beaches in California! This spacious beach features soft, fine sand and gentle waves, ideal for little ones and safe water play. (Lifeguards stand watch over the beach during peak summer months.) The boardwalk offers restrooms and outdoor showers, as well as the adjacent Pirate Park with basketball courts and a playground. Additional amenities include picnic tables, grill stands, and parking, along with multiple lodging options. Bring your family for a walk along the pier, or hit up one of the many restaurants that line the beach. Just remember to leave Fido at home between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M. (Or take him to Olde Port Beach / Fisherman’s Beach, just south on Avila Beach Drive, where off-leash dogs happily play.) Directions: From Highway 101, take the Avila Beach Drive exit and head west for 2.5 miles. Turn left on San Juan Street and take the next left onto Front Street, which faces the beach.

Cayucos State Beach

Cayucos State Beach blends sand, surf and sun for a classic California vibe. Kids will love the sizeable beach playground, tidepools and fishing off historic Cayucos Pier. (No fishing license required!) For surfers, the waves near the pier offer thrills, and surf schools like Cayucos Surf Company help newbies get in on the action. (Lifeguards watch the beach in summer months.) Multiple casual restaurants line the shore (including the sea-worthy Schooner’s Restaurant) as well as a range of accommodations. Other amenities include restrooms, outdoor showers, and parking. Dogs are allowed on Cayucos State Beach on leash. Directions: From the south, take Highway 1 to the 13th Street exit and head west on 13th Street. Turn right on South Ocean Drive and drive for 1 mile. Turn left on Cayucos Drive and left on Ocean Front Avenue, which faces the beach. From the north, turn right off Highway 1 onto North Ocean Avenue. After 0.7 miles turn right on Cayucos Drive and left on Ocean Front Avenue, which faces the beach. cayucos pier san simeon pier

W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, San Simeon

A local favorite, this beach stands adjacent to the town of Old San Simeon, across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle. In addition to calm waters and a long coastline, this protected cove also offers picnic sites, parking, restrooms, and grill stands. Little ones will enjoy sand play, walking the pier and fishing (no license required), as well as swimming, kayaking and sunbathing. The Coastal Discovery Center, just beside the beach, contains educational exhibits about the shoreline, wildlife, local history and more. Note that leash laws are enforced to the left of San Simeon Pier, but to the right, Fido can play leash-free. Directions: From Highway 1, turn onto Slo San Simeon Rd toward the ocean and follow to the beach.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria

One of the best beaches in Central California for beachcombing, Moonstone Beach encourages exploration for visitors of all ages. This beach is known for its smooth “moonstones” as well as sea glass and driftwood. Waves can be large and strong here, often unsuitable for swimming or surfing. But adjacent Shamel Park offers parking, restrooms, a playground, gazebo, horseshoes, playing field, and seasonal heated swimming pool. Note: dogs are not allowed on Moonstone Beach, but are permitted on leash in Shamel Park. Directions: From Highway 1, turn west on Windsor Boulevard. Drive 0.3 miles and park beside Shamel Park. Moonstone Beach can be accessed through the park. Walking along Cambria Boardwalk Must-See Spots In Cayucos

Morro Bay Strand State Beach Day Use Area, Cayucos

The 6 miles of white sand beach between Morro Rock and the Cayucos Pier make for a scenic and challenging walk in Highway 1 Discovery country. The Morro Bay Strand Day Use Area covers a section of that beach boasting ideal conditions for fishing, windsurfing and kite-flying. It’s also a popular training ground for joggers. With excellent facilities for picnicking, this stretch enjoys a picturesque view of Morro Rock in the distance. Note that leashed dogs are allowed in the adjacent campground, but not on the beach. Directions: The Morro Bay Strand lies 2 miles south of Cayucos on Highway 1. From Highway 1, head west on Cass Street. Make a slight left on 24th Street and follow toward the beach. Park in the lot beyond the State Beach sign.

Morro Bay Dog Beach, Cayucos

Let your four-legged friend play in the surf at this charming off-leash dog beach on Cayucos’s southern end. This stretch of coastline has something for the whole family, including beachcombing (sand dollars!), wildflowers, tidepools, surfing, fishing and birding. It also offers beautiful views of Morro Rock, as well as free parking. Note that this beach does not have restrooms or facilities. Also, if your dog is aggressive or has a strong hunting instinct, please leave him or her on leash or at home. Directions: Access North Point Dog Beach off Highway 1 just south of Cayucos. At Toro Creek Road, turn toward the ocean and find parking between the highway and the shoreline. Estero Bluffs in Cayucos, CA

Estero Bluffs Beach

Part of a scenic state park, this beach can be reached by hiking through grasslands along the bluffs. While several beaches skirt the trail below, the most accessible sits in a sandy cove where Villa Creek meets the sea. Here, find a great spot for tidepooling, whale and birdwatching, and beachcombing. Parking is easy to find along Highway 1 between Cayucos and Cambria. Directions: From Cayucos, drive north on Highway 1 for about four miles and look for parking areas on the ocean side of the road.

Best State Park Beaches on the Central Coast Along Highway 1

Montaña de Oro State Park

Want a state park with an ocean view? This scenic spot offers multiple options. If lounging by the ocean is your style, nothing beats the views at Spooner’s Cove beach. Find a protected cove here, fed by a freshwater stream perfect for wading. Amenities include bathrooms and free parking. (Note that dogs are permitted here on leash, but not on trails or other beaches.) For a challenge, try hiking Valencia Peak, a 4.2-mile loop trail that ascends 1,347 feet. One of the highest in the park, this peak makes for a moderately strenuous hike with striking wildflower and coastal views. To find the trailhead, enter the park and drive through the eucalyptus grove. The parking area for Valencia Peak is on the left, just beyond the visitor center. For horse lovers, Hazard Canyon provides terrific equestrian trails and access to potable water. Try the 11.2-mile Hazard Peak trail for a secluded, moderate ride. To get to the trailhead, enter Montaña de Oro State Park and drive through the eucalyptus grove. The trailhead will be on the left, just before Spooner’s Cove. The same views apply to mountain biking enthusiasts, too. Ride the Oats Peak Trail, an intermediate out-and-back singletrack clocking in at 11.2 miles and an ascent of more than 1,430 feet. To access the trailhead, enter the park and pass through the eucalyptus grove. Pass Spooner’s Cove and the visitor center, then turn left on the road to the Islay Creek Campground. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road, just before dropping to the campground. Directions: Travel 6 miles southwest from Morro Bay, or seven miles south from Los Osos on Pecho Valley Road. Spooner Cove at Montana de Oro

Morro Bay State Park

Visiting the Morro Bay State Park opens a window on the Central Coast at its finest. Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the marina, hiking, golfing or watching wildlife ― all beneath a stand of majestic Monterey Pines. Trails abound for hikers and mountain bikers, and kayakers will love cruising around the bay. (Note that dogs are allowed on trails with a leash.) When you’re ready for an indoor adventure, don’t miss the Natural History Museum, which has views of the ocean. Directions: Take Highway 1 to the Los Osos - Baywood Park exit. Drive west for about 1 mile, then turn right into the state park.

Pismo State Beach Oceano

As thrilling as it is beautiful, this state beach includes the Oceano State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), which permits vehicles to drive on the beach. Other activities here include swimming, surfing, kite-flying and horseback riding. Visitors can also enjoy surf fishing or digging for famous Pismo clams. And don’t miss the boardwalk from the SVRA parking lot to the Monarch Butterfly Grove Cross the freshwater lagoon adjacent to the grove for excellent birdwatching. (Note that dogs are allowed on leash only.) Directions: From Highway 101, take the exit toward Pismo Beach/Wadsworth Avenue. Head west on Highway 1 about 7 miles. Keep left at the fork to continue on Highway 1 / Dolliver Street for 3 miles.Turn right onto Pier Avenue, then right onto Pismo State Beach.

Best Central Coast Beach Vacation Towns Along Highway 1

Cambria

This seaside hamlet feels cozy and quaint beneath native stands of Monterey Pines. Hit Cambria Coffee Roasting Company for a cup of joe before heading to Moonstone Beach for majestic views and treasure-hunting. Then take a self-guided walk through Cambria’s historic streets with help from the Cambria Historical Society. Grab lunch at Robin’s Restaurant (don’t miss the lobster bisque!) and wander through Cambria’s boutiques and art galleries. Finish with a hike through the beachfront Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and luxurious seafood dinner and wine at the Sea Chest Oyster Bar. Main Street Cambria

Cayucos

Looking for classic beachy fun? Cayucos sits directly on the shoreline with personality to spare. Try breakfast at the Sea Shanty, then work it off with a walk along Cayucos State Beach. If the weather permits, enjoy surfing and sun bathing in its soft sand until lunchtime. Grab a slice at Ocean Front Pizza, or tacos at Ruddell’s Smokehouse before taking a walk along the historic pier. Try fishing off the side, or browse the antique and surf shops along Ocean Avenue. And don’t miss the Brown Butter Cookie Company, where brown butter cookies are topped with (what else?) sea salt. At dinner time, head to The Grill at the Cass House or Lunada Bistro for farm-to-table cuisine.

San Simeon

There’s plenty of fun to be had in San Simeon, land of castles and endless coastline. Take your cup of coffee up to the Elephant Seal Rookery, and watch the circle of life unfold before your very eyes. Then head to Hearst Castle State Park to experience the grandeur of William Randolph Hearst’s life and times.(Don’t miss the famous Neptune Pool! Or the zebras!) Afterward, lunch on gourmet sandwiches at Sebastian’s Cafe, followed by wine tasting at the adjacent Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room. Then walk down to the W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach and enjoy the sand between your toes. If time permits, learn about marine life and the history of San Simeon at the Coastal Discovery Center. Finish your busy day at the Ragged Point Inn with elegant cuisine, fine local wine, and an ocean view to remember. Whale Watching at the San Simeon Pier on Highway 1 Spooner Cove at Montana de Oro

Los Osos & Baywood

Start a day in Los Osos with coffee at the Back Bay Cafe, then head for Montaña de Oro State Park. Hike, bike, or ride a horse along any number of trails, then relax on the beach at Spooner’s Cove. For lunch, grab tasty Mexican fare at La Casita (plus chips and a container of their legendary salsa for take-away). Then enjoy walking the labyrinth in Baywood, or take in the many artist’s galleries and studios on 2nd Street. Munch those chips and salsa on the Baywood Pier, then dine at Blue Heron for farm-to-table cuisine and local wines.

Avila Beach

This protected paradise can be as exciting or as relaxed as you want it to be. Start with a walk beneath the leafy canopy of the Bob Jones Trail, with a stopover at Woodstone Marketplace for coffee and breakfast. Then finish at the beach for sunbathing, surfing or sand play.  (Avila Beach doesn’t welcome dogs between 10am and 5pm, but Fisherman’s Beach lets them roam off leash, down the road.) Or, if you golf, hit the links at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Either way, you’ll be hungry for lunch. Try Mersea’s for fresh seafood with a view, or Custom House for classic American fare. Afterward, stroll the boardwalk’s unique shops, or take a hike or trolley ride to the Point San Luis Lighthouse. (Remember to make a reservation for the visit!) For wine lovers, try wine tasting in spots like Sinor-Lavallee and Alapay Cellars. Finish with a French bistro dinner at Blue Moon Over Avila, or fresh flavors at romantic The Gardens of Avila. Oceano Dunes on Highway 1

Oceano

Have a freewheeling good time in this hidden gem by the sea! Begin the day with a walk - or ride - along the beach. The Oceano Dunes State Park Vehicular Area is the only beach in California that permits vehicles to drive on the beach. Looking for a thrill? Try a Hummer tour with an experienced guide. Oceano also welcomes horses and their riders to enjoy the sand and sea. Try hooking up with the Pacific Dunes Riding Ranch for information on trail rides and stables. After a busy morning, take a load off at Beach Burger, one of the best spots for piled-high burgers. In the afternoon, hit the Oceano Train Depot and Museum for a fascinating look at the town’s history. Afternoons also provide the best time for kite-flying, kite-boarding or paragliding on the shoreline. In the evening, try any one of Oceano’s famed Mexican restaurants like Chacho’s or Old Juan’s Cantina. Follow that with a show at the uproarious Great American Melodrama theater, where the laughs come a mile a minute. [post_title] => Best Beaches in Central California [post_excerpt] => The Central Coast boasts some of the best beaches in the U.S., and certainly on the West Coast. Visitors can find a spectrum of options, with ideal beaches for sunbathing, beachcombing, wildlife viewing, surfing, tidepooling, doggie fun or even dune-driving. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-best-beaches-in-central-california [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-05 20:43:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-06 04:43:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=112919 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 112895 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-04-21 14:47:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-21 22:47:53 [post_content] =>

Dog-Friendly Activities

The Highway 1 Discovery Route welcomes everyone, not just two-legged travelers! California’s Central Coast provides a fun and safe playground for both dogs and their humans. Stay in dog-friendly lodging, dine in dog-friendly restaurants, and frolic on dog-friendly beaches, hikes and parks. Many wineries even welcome dogs, making for an easygoing good time for both you and Rover alike.

Note: The following guide offers dog-friendly ideas for where to visit in coastal San Luis Obispo County. Please observe on- and off-leash permissions, as designated by listing.

 

 

 

Dog-Friendly Hotels & Vacation Rentals

Destinations along the Highway 1 Discovery Route offer several comfortable options for lodging with your pup. The following guide leads to filtered lists on the Highway 1 Discovery Route website for pet-friendliness.

San Simeon

Explore Hearst Castle, take a hike, or wade in the waves in San Simeon. There are plenty of  options for pups.

Ragged Point

Enjoy the coastal scenery of Ragged Point, and relax in a pet-friendly hotel or rental property.

Cambria

This sweet seaside hamlet appeals to more than just people. Take your dog along and experience its quaint charms together.

Cayucos

Looking for sand and surf for both you and your pup? Look no further than Cayucos, where many lodging properties welcome pets.

Los Osos-Baywood Park

The rugged, majestic stretch of coastline in Los Osos-Baywood Park provides space for dogs and people alike to play. Dog-friendly accommodations make for a sweet, easy visit.

Edna Valley & Arroyo Grande

Wine and sunshine are the name of the game in picturesque Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande. And with your furry friend in tow, the visit will be double the fun.

Avila Beach

Classic California vibes make Avila Beach a fun place for you and your four-legged friend to explore.

Oceano & Nipomo

Have fun in the sun with your pup in Oceano and Nipomo. Then cozy up in a pet-friendly hotel or rental.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants & Wineries

Take your furry friend out for a bite to eat, or to a number of pup-welcoming wineries. The Highway 1 Discovery Route’s temperate climate makes for many dog-friendly patios and cellar doors. Just be sure to pick up after your pet and keep all dogs on-leash and well-behaved.

Ragged Point

Take Rover to the patio at the Ragged Point Inn for delicious fare and a spectacular ocean view.

San Simeon

Nothing beats a stacked-high sandwich on the patio at Sebastian’s Cafe in the Old San Simeon General Store. Just next door to Sebastian’s, Hearst Ranch Winery allows visitors to purchase wine by the glass or bottle to enjoy on the patio with their pup.

Cambria

Bring your pup to La Terraza for tasty Mexican flavors, Wild Ginger for Thai cuisine, or Redwood Cafe for American classics. Enjoy sipping with Fido by your side at Harmony Cellars.

Cayucos

Visit the Sea Shanty for a killer breakfast (or lunch, or dinner), or Martin’s Restaurant for Mexican and Italian cuisine. Looking for beachside tacos or smoked meats? Ruddell’s Smokehouse has you (and Lassie) covered.

Los Osos-Baywood Park

Head to the patio at Blue Heron for farm-to-table dining, or the Back Bay Cafe for breakfast and lunch with a pierside view. The Clubhouse Grill at Sea Pines Golf Resort restaurant also welcomes pets to the patio.

Avila Beach

Dine beside your four-legged friend at pet-friendly restaurants like Mersea’s in Avila Beach.

Oceano & Nipomo

Everyone’s invited to dine in Oceano and Nipomo! Bring your pup to restaurants like Sylvester’s Burgers for classic beachy fare in a relaxed atmosphere.

Edna Valley & Arroyo Grande

A number of eateries welcome dogs in and around Edna Valley. Try Alphy’s Broiler for burgers, Rooster Creek Tavern for wine country fare, or Klondike’s Pizza for Alaskan-style pizza. (It’s a thing!) Or, if you’re in the mood for a cup of joe, head over to Coffee Express. The famous wineries of Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande are a great place to hang with your furry friend. Wolff Vineyards and Chamisal Vineyards focus on Edna Valley’s landmark varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Or try Saucelito Canyon Vineyard for some of the best Zinfandel in California.

Other Dog-Friendly Locations Along Highway 1

Many other eateries welcome pups and their humans across the Highway 1 Discovery Route. Try Novo for global cuisine and a leafy patio, or Marisol at The Cliffs for seafood and an ocean view. Or, if wine country fare is your speed, head to Paso Robles for Thomas Hill Organics. Check our list of other pet-friendly restaurants in Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Shell Beach, Pismo Beach and Paso Robles. SLO CAL wineries are for the dogs! It’s easy to find other wineries that offer a warm welcome to your four-legged friend. Visit East Paso to experience the caves at Eberle Winery, or West Paso for Rhône-style wines at Tablas Creek Vineyards. Better yet, take Sparky on a winery bus tour with the Wine Wrangler or Wine Line.

Dog-Friendly Beaches

Dogs love the beach, and the Highway 1 Discovery Route has plenty of space to run (and sniff). What makes a beach dog-friendly? It mostly has to do with your pup’s leash. Some beaches allow dogs on a leash, some are leash-optional, and others prohibit dogs altogether. The beaches listed below all welcome dogs, but check each listing for specifics on leashes. And no matter where you go, remember good etiquette: always pick up after your pet.

[caption id="attachment_118202" align="alignright" width="842"] Credit: @chessiethefriendlyghost[/caption]

Check out these dog-friendly beaches along the Highway 1 Discovery Route:

A day here with your pup might include romping off-leash in the beautiful San Simeon Cove.

Cambria’s Moonstone Beach doesn’t allow dogs, but pups can walk the scenic Moonstone Beach Boardwalk on leash.

Cayucos State Beach invites on-leash dogs to enjoy its sun and sand from the Pier south to Chaney Avenue.

Sunbathe or go tide-pooling with your on-leash pooch at Spooner’s Cove in Montaña de Oro State Park.

Nothing beats watching the off-leash dogs at Fisherman’s Beach, where they can play and sniff to their heart’s content.

Take Fido on a freewheeling adventure! The Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area welcomes vehicles to drive on the beach, as well as on-leash pups.

Want your pup to be free to roam? Check out the Morro Strand State Beach between Morro Bay and Cayucos for a dog-gone good time, off-leash.

Dog-Friendly Parks & Dog Parks

Get the wiggles out at a friendly dog park! The following sites welcome well-behaved pups along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

Dog Parks

The Highway 1 Discovery Route runs past the Cambria Dog Park, which is fenced fully, shaded, and allows pups to play off-leash. To the east, Atascadero’s off-leash Heilmann Dog Park offers water, shade, picnic tables ― even a doggie spa.

Dog-Friendly Parks

Dozens of SLO CAL parks welcome dogs on leash. 3rd Street Park in Cayucos offers history (the former town jail still stands there) while Arroyo Grande’s Biddle Park offers space and seclusion. Each dog-friendly park in San Luis Obispo County has its own look and feel. Check the list for one that’s perfect for you and your pup.

Dog-Friendly State Parks

From the Cayucos Pier south to Chaney Avenue, Cayucos State Beach invites on-leash dogs and their humans. On-leash pooches can also enjoy the beach at Spooner’s Cove in Montaña de Oro State Park. Other on-leash state parks include the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, San Simeon State Park, and William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach.

Dog-Friendly Hikes & Trails

Ready to hit the open trail with your four-legged buddy? Try these suggestions for a heart-pumping fresh air outing together. A quick and challenging walk along the Cliffside Trail get the blood flowing for both people and their on-leash dogs. Hike the 2-mile Junge Ranch Trail with Lassie on-leash and wind up on a beautiful secluded beach. Others include the Pacific Valley Bluff Trail and San Carpoforo Creek. For an accessible walk with a coastline view, try the Moonstone Beach Trail with your on-leash pooch. Or take an on-leash stroll through the forest on the Fern Canyon Henry Kluck Memorial Trail. The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve offers 440 acres of seaside trails to explore, on leash, while Lampton Cliffs Park provides benches with a view. Other outdoor walks in Cambria include Leffingwell Landing, Strawberry Canyon Trail, and Washburn Campground Trail, all of which require leashes for dogs.   Just north of Cayucos, the Estero Bluffs State Park Trail features rugged bluffs and the remnants of a seaside dairy farm. Bring your pup on leash here, or to the Whale Rock Reservoir for a hike. For a panoramic view of Montaña de Oro and Morro Bay, hike the Black Hill Trail with your dog, on leash. The coastal bluffs of the Bluff Trail also make for a scenic walk with your on-leash pet. Other terrific on-leash hikes for Fido include the El Morro Elfin Forest boardwalk, Hazard Canyon Reef, and the Quarry Trail. Take the whole family (including Sparky, on leash) on the Bob Jones Trail, which leads to the heart of Avila Beach. For a more private hike, bring your on-leash pup to Mallagh Landing, or up Ontario Ridge for a challenge. Take Lassie out, on leash, to see the butterflies at the Monarch Butterfly Grove along Highway 1. Or cruise together (again, on leash) at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Take the easy 2-mile, out-and-back Black Lake Trail with your on-leash dog, or the more challenging 3-mile Cougar Trail. Other challenging trails include the Trout Creek Trail and High Ridge Trail, both ideal for on-leash dogs. [post_title] => Dog Friendly Activities Along Highway 1 [post_excerpt] => California’s Central Coast provides a fun and safe playground for both dogs and their humans. Stay in dog-friendly lodging, dine in dog-friendly restaurants, and frolic on dog-friendly beaches, hikes and parks. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => dog-friendly-activities-along-highway-1 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-10 19:37:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-11 03:37:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=112895 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 110170 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:01:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:01:00 [post_content] => Before the advent of the railroad and easily traversed highways, most of the commerce in central California was conducted by ship and piers and wharfs were vitally important. Local products were shipped out to markets in San Francisco or Los Angeles. Early on, during the Spanish and Mexican eras, ships anchored off the coast and goods were exchanged via small craft, powered by oar. That can be risky even in the best weather. The earliest piers such as the San Simeon pier, were enterprises underwritten by wealthy landowners or by collaborators forming a company which owned the pier. This made the shipment and import of goods much easier and cheaper. [post_title] => San Simeon Bay Pier [post_excerpt] => Before the advent of the railroad and easily traversed highways, most of the commerce in central California was conducted by ship and piers and wharfs were vitally important. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => san-simeon-bay-pier [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:01:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:01:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/san-simeon-bay-pier/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 110172 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:01:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:01:00 [post_content] =>

In 1914 the Pacific Coast Railway Company constructed a pier at Port San Luis for commercial shipping. The pier is located between the existing Avila and Port San Luis (Harford) Piers. 

Union Oil Company of California (later Unocal) leased the new pier and expanded their operations. Oil was shipped from both the Port San Luis and the Pacific Coast Railway Co. Piers and Port San Luis become the largest crude oil shipping port in the world during this time. The current pier extends six-tenths of a mile into the bay and is constructed in the same footprint as the original pier.

 

[post_title] => Pacific Coast Railway Union Oil Pier “Cal Poly Pier” [post_excerpt] => In 1914 the Pacific Coast Railway Company constructed a pier at Port San Luis for commercial shipping. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => pacific-coast-railway-union-oil-pier-cal-poly-pier [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:01:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:01:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/pacific-coast-railway-union-oil-pier-cal-poly-pier/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97174 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:59 [post_content] =>

What: Kayak and lighthouse tour 
When: Weekly on most Saturdays, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon
Where: Avila Beach
Reservation Needed: Yes, call Central Coast Kayaks at (805) 773-3500. For children, discuss minimum age/size when making your reservation.
Cost: $80 for single kayak, $140 for tandem kayak includes equipment, snacks, donation to Lighthouse.

Stewardship Travel is your getaway to 'Ah-Ha' moments on vacation through activities and charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitat, and cultural heritage sites.

Paddle back in time with professional kayak guides to the 125 year old fully restored and quite beautiful Point San Luis Lighthouse in Avila Beach, California. Bring your adventurous spirit and interest in California mariner history – no kayaking experience is necessary and beginners are welcome. A portion of your trip fee is used to help restore and maintain the lighthouse.

The leisurely three-hour round trip guided tour which includes; paddling instruction (if needed/desired), tasty snacks, a short-guided paddle in the protected waters of San Luis Obispo Bay, a walk up from the beach to the lighthouse bluff with beautiful vistas, and a complete docent led educational tour of the lighthouse and its grounds.

Kayaks (all boats and safety equipment provided) will launch after meeting at 9:00 am from the sandy Avila Beach and paddle in the protected waters of the bay to Coastguard Beach below the lighthouse. Along the short route to the lighthouse you will likely see wildlife such as sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, pelicans, Great Blue Herons, bright white egrets and more.

While on your Lighthouse tour you’ll experience what life was really like for a Lighthouse Keeper and his family during the turn of the Century when electricity and indoor plumbing was not available.

There are more to lighthouses than meets the eye. Enjoy learning the immense life-saving value of Lighthouses and how they served thousands of mariners along the rugged California coast. Lighthouses helped ships identify their location, warned ships of potential hazards, and let them know that land was near. Every lighthouse emitted a distinctive series of flashes known as its “characteristic”. These flash sequences allowed ship captains to identify specific lighthouses and their locations.

Have fun learning the characteristic of the Point San Luis lighthouse on your tour!

Gain a deeper connection on vacation through activities and charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitat, and cultural heritage sites.
This activity selection includes:
*A hands-on stewardship/caring activity
*A conservation/heritage donation opportunity through Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers

Thank you for being a Stewardship Traveler along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

[post_title] => Kayak Back In Time to Historic Lighthouse (Beginners Welcome) [post_excerpt] => Paddle back in time with professional kayak guides to the 125 year old fully restored and quite beautiful Point San Luis Lighthouse in Avila Beach, California [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => kayak-back-in-time-to-historic-lighthouse [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/kayak-back-in-time-to-historic-lighthouse/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97153 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:59 [post_content] => In 2015 the Avila Beach Community Foundation launched an RFP for a Public Art Project in Downtown Avila Beach. The winner, local artist Colleen Gnos, painted a series of murals reflecting Avila's past and present that were installed on two Avila Beach Lifeguard Towers and unveiled to the public in February 2016. The towers have become a popular “must-see” for both residents and visitors. [post_title] => Avila Beach Lifeguard Tower Murals [post_excerpt] => The towers have become a popular “must-see” for both residents and visitors. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => avila-beach-lifeguard-tower-murals [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/avila-beach-lifeguard-tower-murals/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97540 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:58 [post_content] => What: Kid-friendly hands-on learning opportunities
When: Weekly on Saturdays
Reservation Required: To reserve space, or get updates on program offerings, call (805) 927-6575. Program cost: $2.00/person

Stewardship Travel along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route in coastal San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) engages visitors in over 50 bite-size activities and contribution opportunities. Stewardship Travel adds meaning and fun while immersing visitors deeply in the natural and cultural heritage experiences that California’s unique Central Coast has to offer.

Each week the Coastal Discovery Center invites visitors to participate in its Plankton Monitoring program and other programs. Citizen science fulfills a great need for resource protection of our natural coastal resources. It helps to establish scientific baselines and increases stewardship through public education and action. Visitors love learning and appreciate the opportunity to participate in real science! This program is statewide and its success depends on citizen scientists. [post_title] => Hands On Citizen Science Outing in San Simeon Cove [post_excerpt] => Each week the Coastal Discovery Center invites visitors to participate in its Plankton Monitoring program and other programs.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => hands-on-citizen-science-outing-in-san-simeon-cove [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/hands-on-citizen-science-outing-in-san-simeon-cove/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97547 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:58 [post_content] => Highway 1 is most famous for its coastal views, so you'll definitely want to take the chance to hop out of your car and stroll along the Pacific Valley Bluff Trail. This hike winds through a grassy field that ends at a cliff, where the landscape opens up to panoramic ocean views. The unique plant life here is unlike anything else; scrubby bushes and flowers dot the fields and tuck themselves away among the rocky coastline and cliffs. Take your time walking up and down the ocean's edge, enjoying the breezes and scenery. [post_title] => Pacific Valley Bluff Trail [post_excerpt] => Highway 1 is most famous for its coastal views, so you'll definitely want to take the chance to hop out of your car and stroll along the Pacific Valley Bluff Trail. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => pacific-valley-bluff-trail [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/pacific-valley-bluff-trail/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97531 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:56 [post_content] => The Boucher Trail runs from the paved elephant seal viewing parking for 1.9 miles, to a half mile north of the Piedras Blancas Light Station. It offers spectacular scenic vistas of the coastline and opportunities for wildlife viewing. The trail includes coastal bluff, grassland, and wetland areas, making it interesting and varied. [post_title] => Boucher Trail at Piedras Blancas [post_excerpt] => The Boucher Trail runs from the paved elephant seal viewing parking for 1.9 miles, to a half mile north of the Piedras Blancas Light Station. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => boucher-trail-at-piedras-blancas [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/boucher-trail-at-piedras-blancas/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97508 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:56 [post_content] =>

Experience an “off road” adventure you will not forget by visiting the Oceano Dunes Visitor Center. Navigate this state-of-the-art center and engage in the hands-on exhibits of native dune and lagoon plant and animal species, Pismo clams, off-highway vehicles, and cultural history. Take an historical tour with a deeper look at the Chumash and the unique individuals called the Dunites. End your visit with a short stroll behind the center for a view of the fresh-water lagoon and all its natural inhabitants. This is a must stop if camping in the park or before venturing off to the coastal playground of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA).

PURCHASE WITH A PURPOSE: bring the education home with you by shopping in our nature store. All sales from the store help support local state parks programs & events.

The Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center is located at 555 Pier Avenue, Oceano 93445. Summer hours are noon to 4pm. For more information and to confirm current hours of operation, please call 805-474-2664. You can visit our website at www.parks.ca.gov. [post_title] => Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center [post_excerpt] => This facility provides our community and park visitors with new educational opportunities. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => oceano-dunes-district-visitor-center [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/oceano-dunes-district-visitor-center/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97319 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content] =>

Cayucos is home to many species of marine wildlife, and the pier is one of the best spots to see them! Watch sea birds dive, otters float, or dolphins surf. Scan the horizon for whale spouts of breaches. Listen for sea lions barking on Mouse Rock.

Kelp beds, to the left, provide protection and food for marine mammals. Explore the tide pools to the north and see more wildlife including starfish, sea anemones, crabs, or sea urchins.

Be a wildlife steward. Give animals the space they need to eat, rest and socialize. Keep your distance and please do not touch, feed or chase wildlife. Enjoy and help protect this diverse and fragile marine environment.

The Whale Trail sign is located on the Cayucos Pier and supported by VisitCayucos, San Luis Obispo County Parks, and Highway 1 Discovery Route

The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. Learn more in this video

Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment by establishing a network of viewing sites along the whales’ trails along the Salish Sea and the Pacific Coast.

Our goals are as follows:

  1. Increase awareness that our marine waters are home to orcas and other species
  2. Connect visitors to orcas, other marine wildlife and their habitat
  3. Inspire stewardship and build community
  4. Promote land-based whale watching
Listen to the interview about the Whale Trail here and read more in the Pasadena Independent article here. [post_title] => Whale Trail [post_excerpt] => The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => whale-trail-cay [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/whale-trail-cay/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97401 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content] => Morro Bay was designated a state estuary in 1994 and an “estuary of national significance” in 1995 as a result of a tireless community-based effort to protect this precious resource. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is one of 28 National Estuary Programs around the country working to safeguard and improve the health of some of our nation’s most important coastal waters. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is locally managed, but is recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency, who provides some financial and technical support to each National Estuary Program. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program works on behalf of our local community to make Morro Bay a better place for all of us. [post_title] => Morro Bay Estuary [post_excerpt] => Morro Bay was designated a state estuary in 1994 and an “estuary of national significance” in 1995 as a result of a tireless community-based effort to protect this precious resource. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => morro-bay-estuary [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/morro-bay-estuary/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97525 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content] =>

California's Central Coast is home to a variety of marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles, fish, invertebrates and marine algae. Scan the horizon and watch for the heart-shaped blows of gray whales on their annual migration. A big splash could mean a humpback whale has just breached. Search for sea otters on their backs eating clams and dolphins surfing waves. Farther offshore, blue whales and orcas thrive in deeper waters.

Be a wildlife steward. Give animals the space they need to eat, rest and socialize. Keep your distance and please do not feed, touch or chase wildlife. Enjoy and help protect this diverse and fragile marine environment.

The Whale Trail sign is located on the Oceano Dunes-Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes and supported by VisitOceanoNipomo, CA State Parks OHV, and Highway 1 Discovery Route

The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. Learn more in this video

Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment by establishing a network of viewing sites along the whales’ trails along the Salish Sea and the Pacific Coast.

Our goals are as follows:

  1. Increase awareness that our marine waters are home to orcas and other species
  2. Connect visitors to orcas, other marine wildlife and their habitat
  3. Inspire stewardship and build community
  4. Promote land-based whale watching
Listen to the interview about the Whale Trail here and read more in the Pasadena Independent article here. [post_title] => Whale Trail [post_excerpt] => The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => whale-trail-oc [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/whale-trail-oc/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [16] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97278 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content] =>

Along the Whale Trail you'll be looking over the waters of one of our nation's most spectacular marine protected areas, offering some of the best wildlife viewing in the world-including 34 species of marine mammals! Search for the heart-shaped blows of gray whales, tall dorsal fins of orcas, or feeding humpback and blue whales. Look for seals and sea lions on offshore rocks and sea otters wrapped up in kelp. You can see amazing marine life at the Whale Trail's shore-based sites at any time of year. 

Be a wildlife steward. Give animals the space they need to eat, rest and socialize. Keep your distance and please do not touch, feed or chase wildlife. Enjoy and help protect this diverse and fragile marine environment.

The Whale Trail is located at San Simeon State Park on Moonstone Beach Drive and is supported by VisitCambria, California State Parks and Highway1DiscoveryRoute.

The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. Learn more in this video

Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment by establishing a network of viewing sites along the whales’ trails along the Salish Sea and the Pacific Coast.

Our goals are as follows:

  1. Increase awareness that our marine waters are home to orcas and other species
  2. Connect visitors to orcas, other marine wildlife and their habitat
  3. Inspire stewardship and build community
  4. Promote land-based whale watching
Listen to the interview about the Whale Trail here and read more in the Pasadena Independent article here. [post_title] => Whale Trail [post_excerpt] => The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => whale-trail-cam [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/whale-trail-cam/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [17] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97572 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content] =>

Teachers, students, beachgoers, researchers and others can now view a wealth of information about central California marine life through a new iPhone and iPad application released by NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The free "SeaPhoto" app, the first of its kind for the region, includes more than 1,300 photos of marine life, some with detailed ecological information.

"People connect to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in so many ways, said Paul Michel, sanctuary superintendent. "We are proud to be able to facilitate this virtual use in an instructive way through cutting-edge technology."

In addition to the photos of more than 550 species of marine life, the mobile app includes an extensive, searchable glossary of common and scientific names. Users can save their favorite photos and share them via Twitter and email. The app also provides general information about the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and links to the sanctuary's web site and its YouTube channel. Developed in partnership with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, SeaPhoto can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App store onto an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

[post_title] => SeaPhoto App [post_excerpt] => Teachers, students, beachgoers, researchers and others can now view a wealth of information about central California marine life [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => seaphoto-app [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/seaphoto-app/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 18 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97400 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-06-24 12:00:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-24 20:00:11 [post_content] =>

History of Montaña de Oro

The human history of Montaña de Oro State Park begins with the Chumash people who lived here long before the first European explorers arrived. It’s been estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 Chumash people lived across California’s Central Coast between Morro Bay and Malibu. In 1542, Spanish explorers noted how open and welcoming the Chumash people were when they greeted them from their canoes. The Mission Period began when Don Gaspar de Portola came to claim this stretch of coastline for Spain. Sadly, with the introduction of European viruses, most of the Chumash people died. Those who survived fled their villages, and the Chumash way of life all but disappeared. Remnants of Chumash culture like middens (ancient refuse heaps) can still be found throughout Montaña de Oro State Park. After Mexico ceded Alta California to the U.S. in 1848, ownership of Montaña de Oro changed several times, as did its borders. Part of Montaña de Oro, called Rancho Cañada de los Osos, combined with Rancho Pecho y Islay to the south to comprise 32,431 acres.

Key Facts About Montaña de Oro

In 1892, Alden B. Spooner established a section of that property as Pecho Ranch & Stock Co., with a dairy, ranch and row crops. He built a home, sheds, stables, a creamery, barns and even a water mill for power. Spooner and his sons made use of a nearby cove by building a warehouse, chute, and a boom to load steamers below. To the north, Alexander S. Hazard established agricultural crops as well as a dairy. He also planted a forest of eucalyptus trees, hoping to sell timber across the state. Sadly, eucalyptus trees produce wood unfit for commercial uses. (The mistake was a common one across the Central Coast, as evidenced by the thousands of eucalyptus trees across the Central Coast.) Hazard Canyon saw several natural events in the 1940s, including a flood and a wildfire that burned down Hazard’s diary. The property transferred from a rancher named Oliver C. Field to Irene McAllister in the 1950s. (McAllister is the one to first call the land Montaña de Oro ― “mountains of gold” ― for the poppies and wildflowers that grow there.) The property went into bankruptcy in the 1960s, during which California Governor Pat Brown launched a park acquisition program. The state stepped in to purchase Montaña de Oro and it became a state park on April 24, 1965. Today, Rancho Montaña de Oro is some of the most untouched publicly-owned land in the state. Virtually hike the trails on Google here. Bluffs Hike in Montana De Oro State Park

Hiking in Montaña De Oro State Park

Bluff Trail

This 3.4-mile out-and-back trail skirts rugged coastline, bluffs, and tide pools. Look for the trailhead near the Montaña de Oro visitor center and Spooner Ranch House. The trail begins with a wooden bridge, followed by ocean vistas. After a half mile, stop at Corallina Cove or continue hiking for more primitive trail to Quarry Cove.

Valencia Peak Trail

At 4.5 miles round trip and 1,275 feet in elevation, this hike offers a 360-degree view in return for hard work! The peak itself is 1,347 feet and one of Montaña de Oro State Park’s tallest. The hike begins at the parking area just beyond Spooner’s Cove, across from the Bluff Trail trailhead. Take the single-track Valencia Peak Trail inland through wild sage, a series of switchbacks and some steep terrain. At the top, sit at the picnic table and enjoy views of Morro Rock, Cerro Cabrillo and Point Buchon. The trail requires no fee or permit, but bring sunscreen as the hike offers little to no shade. No dogs.

Hazard Peak Trail

This essential Central Coast hike offers clear views of Morro Bay and beyond from its 1,076-foot peak. Round-trip, the hike spans 6 miles and climbs an elevation of 950 feet. Unlike the Valencia Peak Trail, Hazard Peak Trail ascends steadily, rather than steeply. Stay to the right throughout and pass by sagebrush, eucalyptus groves and expanding views of the ocean. At the top, find benches and a picnic table for taking in the 360-degree view. The trail doesn’t require a fee or permit, but remember that dogs aren’t allowed on the trail. To reach the trail, just after entering the park find the trailhead on the left, before Spooner’s Cove. Park on either side of the road.

Islay Creek Trail

At 6 miles round trip, the Islay Creek Trail offers a gentle canyon hike with access to a small waterfall. Elevation gain clocks in at just 300 feet. Start the trail at the mouth of a stream at Spooner’s Cove. Take the dirt trail inland from Spooner’s Cove, past the Islay Creek Campground. Look for great views of both Valencia Peak and Hazard Peak. Find a waterfall after just 1.4 miles in Islay Creek. At 3 miles into the trail, turn at the abandoned barn for a 6-mile-total hike. Fees and permits are not required. No dogs.

Oats Peak Trail

At 1,373 feet tall, Oats Peak lies further inland from Valencia Peak, but offers better views of the Irish Hills to the east. A gradual trail with plenty of switchbacks ascends 1,325 feet over 10.8 miles, round trip. Along the way, wide open views abound. To begin, find the trailhead behind the Spooner Ranch House along the road to Islay Creek Campground. A sign for the Reservoir Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail stands beside a dirt trail. Any time a junction mentions the “Old Oaks Peat Trail,” stick with the New Oats Peak Trail, as it is complete and more gradual. (Most trail intersections are marked well along the way.) Along the ascent, find patches of shade, a trickling stream, and expansive views of the ocean. Note: the last 0.15 mile section of the trail is the steepest, but it’s worth the effort! Find picturesque views of Morro Rock and the San Simeon coastline beyond at the summit.

Reservoir Flats Trail

This two-mile loop takes in a 200-foot elevation gain and offers a variety of views. Find the trailhead between the Spooner Ranch House and the Islay Creek Campground entrance, marked by a sign. After 0.3 miles, bear left at the junction of Reservoir Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail. Walk through the empty reservoir which once served the Spooner home below. Enjoy a forested walk through a canyon of cottonwood trees and oaks. At the edge of the Islay Creek Campground, walk through the campground to return to the trailhead to finish.

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Mountain Biking in Montaña de Oro

Picturesque views and well-maintained trails make Montaña de Oro State Park a mountain biker’s paradise. Depending on the trail, a full suspension bike is best (but not necessarily essential) for most. Note that hikers and bikers share trails; please use a bell for the safety of everyone on the trail. Bluff Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2.3 miles, point to point Elevation: +142 feet / -77 feet Avg / Max Grade: 2% / 6% Type: Doubletrack Hazard Peak Trail Difficulty: Easy/intermediate Distance: 4.1 miles point to point Elevation: +915 feet / -308 feet Avg / Max Grade: 6% / 12% Type: Singletrack Islay Creek Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles, point to point Elevation: +68 feet / -352 feet Avg / Max Grade: 3% / 7% Type: Doubletrack Oats Peak Trail Difficulty: Intermediate Distance: 11.3, out and back Elevation: +1,433 feet / -1,438 feet Avg / Max Grade: 5% / 36% Type: Singletrack Reservoir Flats Trail Difficulty: Easy/intermediate Distance: 2 mile loop Elevation: +132 feet / -187 feet Max Grade: 4.4% Type: Singletrack

Free Hiking and MTB Maps

The Highway 1 Discovery Route Stewardship Travel Program partners with local organizations to offer free hiking and mountain biking maps. Visitors and local residents are invited to download free maps for trails across Highway 1.

Volunteer Trail Work Days

As part of the Stewardship Travel Program, volunteers are welcome year-round to help build, restore and maintain hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. All work day events and classes are organized by the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers group, a non-profit organization since 1987. They require no experience to jump in and help! The annual volunteer trail workday in Montaña de Oro State Park is the first Sunday in February. Opportunities for volunteering on trail restoration include at least one trail work session per month. Two major workdays are offered each year and are called TRAILWERKS: all-day events with free meals, tee shirts, and raffle prizes for participants. The Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers group encourages everyone who enjoys California trail systems to volunteer for workdays as well as practice important trail etiquette that helps prevent trail erosion, reduces user conflicts, and ensures trail access. More detailed information, trail guidelines, and volunteer locations can be found at their website. And if you can’t join a trail work day, consider donating toward the purchase of trail building tools for volunteers.

Montaña de Oro Tide Beaches

Beaches at Montaña de Oro State Park include quaint, protected coves, long stretches of sand, remote shores and ideal surfing conditions.

Spooner’s Cove Beach

At the point where Islay Creek drains into the ocean, Spooner’s Cove Beach offers a comfortable place to wade, explore tidepools, and picnic. Interesting rock formations invite climbers to play, particularly at low tide. The beach lies just across the street from the Islay Creek Campground, and allows dogs (on leash). As a central point in Montaña de Oro State Park, many trails begin nearby. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, and free parking. Find Spooner’s Cove Beach to the right, just before the campground.

Sandspit Beach

This long beach begs for long walks on soft sand, and the dunes beg for jumping! The sand spit that gives the beach its name continues north, almost all the way to Morro Bay. Amenities at Sandspit Beach include restrooms, free parking and picnic tables. To find the beach, make a right into the Sandspit day-use area, and look for parking at the end of the road. Then make the short walk on a trail to the beach. Enjoy views or Morro Rock and watch surfers ride the waves. Note: Sandspit Beach is an advanced surfing area. Sharks have been known to swim in these waters; surf at your own risk.

Hazard Canyon Reef

A dramatic, rocky section of coastline, Hazard Canyon Reef is one of the best tide-pooling locations in the state. Visit at low tide to see creatures like sea anemones, urchins, sea stars, and crabs in abundance. (Check tide information for best times to tidepool.) Other activities include walking 1.5 miles to Sandspit Beach to the north, and perhaps even several miles further into Morro Bay State Park. Find sand dunes near the parking lot to jump, roll and play on. Explore the reef by following the trail north from the parking lot to a deep drop to the water. Amenities include free parking and equestrian use. Surfing is also popular here, though this is an advanced surfing area; do so at your own risk. To find this beach, enter the park, pass the eucalyptus grove and look for the Hazard Canyon Parking sign.

Coon Creek Beach

The most remote and untouched of Montaña de Oro’s beaches, Coon Creek sits at the southern end of the park. To reach the beach, drive to the end of Pecho Valley Road (the park’s main thoroughfare) park, and follow the Point Buchon Trail to the beach, only open Thursday through Monday. Enjoy tidepools and caves, but remember there are no facilities for visitors to Coon Creek Beach. Spooner's Cove, Los Osos

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Montaña de Oro Camping Overview

Camping in Montaña de Oro allows visitors from across the globe to experience California in its natural state. With nearby hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, surfing, and fishing, these campsites can be reserved at ReserveCalifornia.com.

Islay Creek Campground

This secluded campground with coastal views offers 50 campsites during summer and 25 during winter. With some shade from pine and Monterey cypress trees, each site can accommodate up to 8 people. The campground also offers six primitive sites for backpackers and equestrian sites for those with horses. Trailers, vans, RVs up to 27 feet, pets and campfires are all allowed. Amenities include fire pits, primitive toilets, electrical hookups, potable water and picnic tables. Reservations are essential during summer months, and first-come, first-served during winter. Islay Creek Campground is open year-round. Find the campground entrance just across from Spooner’s Cove, along a half-mile-long loop.

Hazard Canyon Equine Camp

This campground offers 40 sites for either tents or RVs and 4-5 horses each. (Note: electrical hook-ups are not available here.) Two group sites (Madrone and Oak) accommodate up to 50 people and 16-18 horses. Amenities include stalls, pit toilets, fire rings and water for horses. Guests are asked to muck-out their stalls, bring potable water, and keep dogs off equestrian trails. Campers must have a horse to camp at Hazard Canyon Equine Camp. Find the entrance to the horse camp to the left almost immediately after entering the park.

Environmental Campsites

For more options for camping in Montaña de Oro, try hiking into one of its four environmental, primitive sites. These sites can accommodate up to 8 people, but note that they do not allow dogs or campfires. Fees for environmental campsites are $25 per site, per night, plus $10 per vehicle. Environmental campsites can be reserved at the Islay Creek Campground. Find the Bloody Nose Camp and Hazard Grove Camp just north of the Islay Creek Campground. Badger Flat Camp and Deer Flat Camp can be found to the south of the Islay Creek Campground.

Spooner Ranch House

No visit to Montaña de Oro State Park is complete without a visit to the old Spooner Ranch House. Built in 1892, this historic building houses a museum, gift shop and general store for the park. Learn about the Central Coast’s rich agricultural, cultural and natural history with a self-guided tour of the house, which has been lovingly restored by volunteers. Find the Spooner Ranch House just before the Islay Creek Campground, across from Spooner’s Cove. Spooner Ranch House, Los Osos [post_title] => Montaña de Oro State Park [post_excerpt] => This park features rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, including 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => montana-de-oro-state-park [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-30 06:57:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-30 14:57:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/montantildea-de-oro-state-park/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 157 [max_num_pages] => 9 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => 1 [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => ed5665838cadb153393901a574e5bb9e [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

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