Step Out of the Crowds and on to the Secluded Boucher Trail
One of the most popular stops along the iconic Highway 1 on California’s central coast is also home to a little-known road less traveled. Travelers typically stop at The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, the largest northern elephant seal rookery in mainland US, to see them migrate thousands of miles twice each year from the open ocean to this beach for breeding, birthing, molting, and resting between trips. But you can beat the crowds regularly gathered there plus take in the views and other wildlife by hiking The Boucher Trail.
This secluded trail offers spectacular scenic vistas of the coastal bluffs and 4 different elephant seal viewpoints. The Trail runs from the paved elephant seal viewing parking for 1.9 miles, to a half mile north of the treasured landmark, the Piedras Blancas Light Station. The hike is as easy at it gets!
Located on a windswept point of land north of San Simeon, the construction of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse began in 1874 and took a mere ten months to complete. The location was chosen to fill the gap between lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Pinos. Originally standing 100 feet tall, a 4.6 magnitude earthquake struck the area in 1948, shaking the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and damaging the entire top of the structure.
A unique way to view the elephant seals, the light station, and epic views, The Boucher Trail is designated as an easy trail that is well-marked and well-maintained. It’s more about the views and wildlife than the workout. It only takes about an hour and a half to complete the out-and-back hike, so you might want to bring a small snack and a little bit of water.
If you’re interested in this beautiful hike, this short video will tempt you to experience other must-see spots nearby.