Category Archives: Hikes

Spooner’s Cove in Montana De Oro

IMG_8973On our way home from Morro Bay State Park Katie and I stopped by Montana De Oro State Park. It is only about 15 miles south of Morro Bay. With the girls still with us I had found a beach in the park that they were allowed to run around on and enjoy with us, Spooner’s Cove.

Once we finally found Montana De Oro State Park, the campground, and the visitor center or what used to be the Pecho’s family ranch house we headed to the beach just below. We parked in the lot in front of Spooner’s Cove, leashed up the girls, and headed out to check out the beach. Punky was ecstatic. She barked and barked as we trudged through the rough white sand until we reached the water’s edge where she continued to bark until Katie finally picked her up to calm her.

At the water’s edge the sand became coarse rocks, sea glass, and shells about the size of mini chocolate chips. We jumped to the rugged rocks to explore the tidal pools. Slippery with algae we cautiously moved out toward the sea slowly as we looked at bigger and bigger pools. We found fish, snails, and small crabs living within the crevices.

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It got so slippery that we decided to head back. As I jumped back to the beach my foot sunk deep into the coarse sand and the water rushed into my sneaker. Not discouraged by my now wet shoe we continued to explore, walking along the shoreline in the bay. There were two scuba divers in the water and another man fishing along the shore. The birds were scavenging a fish skeleton and Frankie couldn’t resist charging toward them and sending them flying away. She absolutely loves running along the beach.

We examined the south side of the cove, took some pictures of the interesting rock figurations and formations and explored a bit more. If we didn’t have the girls we might have explored even further, but our time had run out. We needed to get home for a concert. We headed back to the truck with smiles upon all of our faces happy about the day, explorations, and sights we had come across.

Spooner’s Cove is fun for everyone. I can only imagine how much I would enjoy it in the summer. Laying on the beach, swimming in the gentle waves, exploring the rocks and trails along the shoreline, and diving among the fish. Seeing everything the area has to offer was all I could think about while I was there. It seems like a perfect summer vacation spot.

Schnauzers on the Black Hill Trail

IMG_8973While in Morro Bay Katie and I went on a hike with her two dogs, Punky and Frankie. From the campsite we jumped in our truck and headed out of the campground until we realized that the trail was actually right in the Morro Bay State Park. We parked back at our campsite and walked to the end of the campground past the group sites where the trailhead was located.

We reached the trailhead of Black Hill Trail, a 3 mile round trip hike that dogs are allowed to traverse and started our trek across a field surrounded by grass and short scrubs. As we continued the trail crossed a street and then declined for a short time before it narrowed between tall trees. At this point we started to see small red and green leaves all around us so we held Frankie and Punky in close to our sides. Poison oak lay along the edges of the trail for the rest of the hike.

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The trail started it’s incline, finishing at a total elevation of 600ft, along a dirt path with fences at different points along the way to discourage mountain bikers. Switchbacks then tracked back and forth up the hill side. With each step we took we rose higher and our view of Morro Bay and the surrounding area became better and better.

We came across a small building and just past that came to a medium sized parking lot that could hold about 30 cars. Turns out we could have skipped the whole mile of the trail and drove to about .5 miles from the top. Here, we took a small break for water for the dogs and a few pictures.

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Then we continued to the top of the hill where the scrubs and trees had disappeared and bright gold rock covered the surface. We scurried up the rocks and took in the final view. We could see the bay to the west and north, the marshland to the south, and even the land and valley filled with trees to the east.

After we had our fill of the view we headed back down the same trail we used to reach the top. It was a much quicker trip as most of it was now down hill. With the two girls at our sides we reached the bottom without any problems well before sunset.

Black Hill Trail is a great place to hike with or without a dog. The trail is well kept and easy to follow. A good trail for people of all ages and levels. Also, while we were there we were pretty secluded. On our 3 mile hike we saw 1 other dog and about 6 other people. If you are ever camping at Morro Bay, Black Hill Trail is a hike with views of the bay that you don’t want to miss.

McWay Waterfall Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

IMG_8973Katie and I were hiking on our camping trip in Big Sur. We had just finished exploring all that the Ewoldsen Trail had to offer and had made it back to the parking lot with a few minutes left until sunset. I really wanted to show Katie the McWay Waterfall so we headed towards the ocean.

We easily found the beginning of the McWay Waterfall Trail just past the ranger’s station at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We walked down the short trail dirt path and through the tunnel that goes under route 1 stopping at a T right before a cliff. We turned right and started up toward the overlook.

As soon as we could see the waterfall we stopped. We never made it to the end of the trail as the sun had begun to set and there was a crowd of people standing at the overlook. We took in the sunset, the small cove, and the 80 ft waterfall that fell onto the sandy beach below from where we stood. It was a gorgeous site to see. Possibly one of the best sunsets ever as the sun streaked stunning pinks, oranges and reds across the sky.

The McWay Waterfall Trail is a short .5 mile trek. The trail is great for all ages and every ability level. With a small incline, the cool ocean breeze keeps the walk comfortable even on hot days and there’s a bench at the end if you need a rest before you make your short walk back to the car. Parking is free if you can find a spot on route 1, otherwise park in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for $10.  The waterfall itself is one of the most popular images people see when they think of Big Sur. Almost everyone that has travelled up route 1 has stopped to see it as it’s a must visit place if you are ever in Big Sur. It’s right up there with the Bixby Creek Bridge.

Ewoldsen Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

IMG_8973While camping up in Big Sur I wanted to make sure Katie and I tried a hike since there are so many in that area. I googled some and found the perfect one only 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park called Ewoldsen Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It has the best of everything that Big Sur has to offer from spectacular ocean views to redwood groves and forests. I was super excited to give it a try.

We headed down to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and pulled into the lot. The sign read parking $10, but since we were camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park our parking was free with our fee at the campsite. The lot was packed so we parked along the road on the way back out as someone left. I believe there is also free parking on the main road before you turn into the state park too.

After we parked we filled our camel packs and headed to the restroom and then to the head of the trail. Ewoldsen Trail is clearly marked to the left side of the entrance after you reach the small ranger house. It is a 4.5 mile loop hike with a 1,600ft elevation gain. It’s about 1 mile out to the 2 mile loop where you follow the same mile back to the start. And since you’re doing the 2 mile loop make sure you don’t miss the small jaunt uphill to the look out and the end of the trail.

Katie and I set out on the trail without much guidance and immediately were in the middle of huge redwood trees. We crossed the McWay Creek a few times back and forth over rocks and small wooden planks. In our back and forth we accidentally missed the sign for the first turn off to the Ewoldsen Trail and followed the creek until it dead ended at a 30 ft high gentle waterfall full of moss and green lush plant life called Canyon Falls.

We took a few pictures while getting attacked by small flies. Then, knowing time was of the essence due to the time change we quickly backtracked to the sign we had missed. If you’re going to hike the trail and want to skip the waterfall keep to the right of the creek.

We stood at the trail sign for a moment deciding if we had time. What the heck, we’ll give it a shot. If it starts to get dark before we hit the lookout we will just turn around and come back. Besides, there were still people on the trail heading out with us and it was only about 3pm.

We followed the trail to the right and up on some switchbacks. We zigzagged up and up and waited for the trail to level off which it rarely did. There were steeper and less steep sections, but it was almost always up. It felt as if the trail would never stop going up. We passed through groves of redwood trees and others labeled along the trail, each a little different than the last. We passed huge redwood trees standing on the trail hallowed out from who knows and even more lying on the ground cut down with the cuts completely smoothed by the weather.

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We came to a large bridge and finally decided it was time to ask someone how much father the 2 mile loop was down the trail. It seemed like we had been walking forever and being in the canyon the sun was shaded by the trees, shrubs, and mountain around us. We asked a couple and the guy told us the loop was another 5 minutes down the trail, that the loop should take us about an hour, and that we should be sure to take the turn off to the lookout when we reach it. It’s worth it was his reasoning.

We continued for another 15 minutes and finally reached the beginning of the loop. We spoke with a lady and man and she told us the loop was 2 miles long, which we already knew, but seeing her do it made us feel as though it would easily be accomplished. Then we realized that she didn’t finish the trail as she said the trial is easier to the right and she came from that way. She must have walked out as far as she could and then turned around. Still determined we could do it, we started up the trail to the right.

The trail continued with more elevation, but not as much as the beginning. It continued to zigzag back and forth and around curves. We placed our feet carefully as the trail was riddled with roots peeking out that we occasionally stumbled over our ankles giving out a few times when we landed on one smaller than expected. With a mountain ridge to one side and a long steep decline into scrubs and brush below falling was not something we wanted anything to do with. The trail steepened and I knew the turn off must be getting close.

Another couple passed us and shortly afterward we came to the turn off to the lookout. The trail steepened again and we headed up without giving much thought to how we would have to come back down that same section of the trail. We reached a map with the intersecting trails on it and headed left to a beautiful overlook. Further down we finally reached a bench and a sign that read “End of Trail”. We stopped here for a short rest taking in the view and eating some power bars to energize us for the 2nd half of the loop we would need to take back. We could see the yellow grass to the end of the cliff, the rocks and crystal blue water below, and then the ocean and clouds above the horizon for as far as we could see. It was incredible.

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The views didn’t stop at the lookout. As we continued the loop there were several clearings that gave us great views of the ocean. One where we were right on the edge of the cliff and another that you could see between the canyon ridges. We turned a corner and suddenly were back in the canyon trekking down between redwoods again. The way down went a lot faster than up even though the trail was trickier in some sections. Our pace just seemed to increase with each step we took and before we knew it we were back where the loop began.

We headed back out on the same 1 mile section we came in on and as we reached the original first turn onto the trail we realized where we should have crossed the small wooden plank the first time and skipped climbing the rocks across. We exited the trail with about 20 minutes to spare before sunset. Just in time.

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Katie and I both really enjoyed this hike. Katie even said it was one of the best hikes she’s been on with me yet. I’m not sure this one is great for people of all ages as along the trail we saw one elderly lady that turned back and another elderly man that had fallen and gotten hurt. I would say this trail is great for those that are somewhat in shape. Older children could probably do it pretty easily, though there are some tricky sections that they might need help with. All in all, this hike’s views are definitely worth the effort.