Tag Archives: view

17-Mile Drive Around Pebble Beach

IMG_8973Before Katie and I headed home from Big Sur we drove farther north past Carmel to Pebble Beach to check out gorgeous the 17-mile drive. It costs $10 do drive the secluded coast of Pebble Beach, but I thought it was well worth it. It was an extremely relaxing drive and very quiet due to their no motorcycle policy and calm roads. The ocean views were amazing with a tremendous amount of variety and a ton to see.

We started out inland where we made our way through thick trees all around us down the road. We passed under and over bridges and twisted our way to the first overlooks. We reached points one and two, Shepherds Knoll and Huckleberry Hill, where we could just barely make out the ocean due to the clouds that morning. I can only imagine what the ocean would look like on a clear day, beautiful.

Then stopped at the Poppy Hills NCGA Golf Course and made our way to the Spanish Bay. Don Gaspar de Portela, the Spanish explorer, and his crew camped there in 1769 while searching for Monterey Bay. We stood at the boardwalk and watched the surfers catch a few waves. With multiple spots to catch the waves, there were waves  of all sizes that day ranging from shoulder high to overhead. A short rain shower started and we headed back to the car to grab a snack as we watched a little longer.

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Once at Spanish Bay the rest of the drive was right along the shoreline and coast. We stopped at almost every point along the way including the Restless Sea, Point Joe, China Rock, Bird Rock, Seal Rock, Fanshell Overlook, and Cypress Point Lookout. At each spot we learned something interesting. Point Joe was where mariners often crashed upon the rocks after mistakenly setting their course for this point believing that it was the entrance to Monterey Bay. Bird Rock was where we saw hundreds of birds with a long row of binoculars set up to give visitors a better view and a list of animals that can be seen through Pebble Beach. Fanshell Overlook was gorgeous. As we pulled up we saw otters playing in the water as the waves wash over them. I excitedly jumped out to check it out trying to get a picture before they vanished into the vast ocean.

We continued and came across The Crocker Grove, Lone Cypress Tree, The Ghost Trees, and Pescadero Point. Crocker Grove was vastly different than everything else we saw on the drive. The trees stood tall and on the way there we saw a huge buck standing nearby. The Lone Cypress Tree was one of my favorite points to see. It is one of California’s most everlasting landmarks. It has existed on its rocky perch for over 250 years and no one knows how it has thrived there for so long. It has inspired many and is revered as a symbol of Pebble Beach Company.

The drive concluded at the Lodge of Pebble Beach. Inside the courtyard were stores for shopping and dinning. We walked through the lodge and came to the 18th hole of the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links which overlooks the Stillwater Cove. The golf course was so green and lush. The cove was just amazing to see. The water in the cove was completely calm while  just a few miles before the waves crashed roughly onto the shore.

The 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach was absolutely inspiring. From Stillwater Cove to Spanish Bay the coastal views were breathtaking and unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. With the green golf courses, tall cypress trees, and crystal blue waters it’s a great activity for people of all ages. Everyone would enjoy this drive.

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.

Choose Your Own Adventure Red Rock Crossing at Cathedral Rock

IMG_8973On my trip to Sedona Arizona with my friend I purchased a book of hikes from the Oaks Creek Visitor Center and was eager to try an easy one. We settled on Red Rock Crossing which is said to have beautiful views of Cathedral Rock.

We pulled up to Crescent Moon Ranch of the Coconino National Forest ready to start our hike. Since it was Memorial Day weekend parking in many of the parks was free, but because we got there pretty late in the day the lot was full. Not a great way to start our hike, but we weren’t concerned about it. We were excited to see Cathedral Rock.

We found a spot on the side of the road about .5 miles away and walked to the park. It was a little confusing to find the start of the trail since the park did not have proper maps that placed our hike on them, but with the help of the book we eventually found what we thought was the beginning.

As we headed to the beginning of the trail, far to the back of the park and past the OK ranch and first homestead on this site we stopped for a moment to view the ranch that still stands there today. In the late 1800’s Jon Lee dug new channels to bring water to this homestead. The water was used for irrigation, watering livestock, night baths, and cool drinking water. As the homestead grew and thrived they were able to sustain peaches, apricot, apple, plum and grape orchards in the early 1900’s. In the 1930’s they ordered a custom built water wheel that can still be seen today. With this wheel they were able to pump enough water to fill storage tanks and provide electricity to the ranch.

We reached the beginning of the dirt path that runs along Oak Creek and started to follow it. We stayed to the south path, but if you can figure out how to cross the creek without getting wet there is also a north path to explore. I believe there are a few main places to cross. One is at the very beginning, instead of walking toward Cathedral Rock walk away from it. There’s a small dam-like rock path that you might be able to cross over that we didn’t find until we were leaving. Another is farther down with three branches over a fast section of water, but looked super slippery while we were there. Other hikers also say that there were places to cross further down than that, but my friend and I didn’t find any of them.

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My friend and I stuck to the south path which was beautifully covered by trees with little openings to the creek that allow for amazing picture opportunities of Cathedral Rock. We hugged the creek most of the way until the trail ended without reaching anything of big importance. Along the way we saw multitudes of balancing rocks. The place was covered in them. Everywhere you looked and walked you were surrounded. They were on the ground, on rocks, in trees, in posts. It was crazy. We also stumbled upon an old water wheel and a few waterholes that looked perfect for fishing. We even came across a field that we walked through a bit and connects back to the trail.

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The fun didn’t actually start though until we waded through the water and played on the rocks that have been carved by the creek. The rocks are a bit slippery so be careful and the water was a bit chilly. However, no one seemed to care too much. There were people swimming, fishing, exploring and having a great time. We even saw some tadpoles in the crevasses of the rocks we were walking along so keep your eyes peeled.

This hike is great for all ages and very easy. It rained on and off the whole time we were there which made it a bit muddy but the trees helped shelter us so we didn’t get too wet. I would try to pick a day that isn’t raining unless you plan on going in the water. You can also make the hike more difficult if you cross the creek or pick some of the trails that run right near the water’s edge. And for the best views of Cathedral Rock be sure to wade out into the water and stand on the red rocks in the center of the creek.

Keys View in Joshua Tree

IMG_8973Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park is a quick stop that everyone should check out. While it’s not the closest to everything else in the park, it  is definitely worth the drive. Turn south off the main east-west road, out past Lost Horse Mine and to the end of the road. You will literally drive right into Keys View. It has ample parking and a restroom for you to enjoy your stop whether you only plan to stay for a few minutes or a few hours.

Keys View overlooks 50 miles of the Coachella Valley it’s gorgeous whether you are visiting at sunrise, midday, or sunset. From the overlook, you can see a few cities and landmarks. The main ones are the Salton Sea which is to the southeast 35 miles away and 235 feet below sea level. Moving west across the view is the Signal Mountain 95 miles away near the U.S.-Mexican border. Continuing further west is Indio, directly south and the center of the upper Coachella Valley. Next, to the southwest is Palm Springs followed by the Gorgonio Pass where the smog-filled air comes into Coachella Valley from southern California. Last is the San Gorgonio Mountain, the tallest point in southern California.

Keys View has a short .25 mile nature trail that loops from the parking area to the top of the valley and back with a couple of amazing views along the way. Stay for as long as or short of a time as you wish. I actually went twice while I was at Joshua Tree National Park. Once at sunset and once during midday. Both times the view was absolutely beautiful. During the day time I could see all the way to Signal Mountain and could even make out the Salton Sea it was so clear. In the evening the haze had rolled in adding depth and different colors to an already breathtaking sunset. As the sunset further the cities began to light up. It was easy to make out which was which.

Hollywood Sign Hike by Way of Hollyridge Trail

IMG_8973Can you believe that I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 7 years now and hadn’t been up to the Hollywood Sign? Those of you from Los Angeles might be thinking, ‘what’s the big deal?,’ but those of you from out of town know what I’m talking about. It just sounds crazy, right? So I decided to give one of the Hollywood Sign hikes a shot.

There are three routes you can take to hike to the Hollywood sign all of which are different difficulty levels. I chose the Hollyridge Trail which connects to Mount Lee Drive and starts at the end of N Beachwood Drive. It is the easiest of the three at 3.5 miles long with an elevation of 750 ft and has some great views of the sign along the way.

I decided to go early morning in hopes of avoiding most of the tourists and being able to find parking in the lot nearby. Unfortunately when I arrived the security guard informed me that parking in the lot is only for Sunset Ranch customers on the weekends. He told me that I would need to park down by the Beachwood Cafe and walk up to the entrance from there or risk getting a $68 ticket for parking along the street closer. I drove back down the hill and found easy parking right across the street from the market.

I walked up through the neighborhood about 0.7 miles to the hike entrance. The houses were very nice and I wondered how much it would cost to live in the area as I went past. Eventually I made it back to the security guard who radioed his coworker and unlocked the door for me. I walked through the gate and thought that it would be really nice to take a horseback ride up to the base of the Hollywood sign. I wondered if they do that.

A little farther and reached the parking lot and the starting point of the hike. I started up the hill and as I reached the top the view of Hollywood was gorgeous. There was a lot of haze, or some may say pollution, but I anticipated that would burn away as the sun rose in the sky. I remembered the directions that I had googled and turned left. I continued past the Sunset Ranch noticing the deep valleys, Hollywood sign views, and the occasional hoof tracks along the path. Horses are allowed on this path and I did see someone out riding on my way back.

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Further down the trail I took another sharp left onto Mulholland Fire Road. This road winds back and forth with occasional views of the sign and Hollywood all the way to Mount Lee Drive. This is where things get tricky. Your gut might say take another left here, which looks like it will lead you to the sign, but turn right. Mount Lee Drive is a paved road that winds its way up and around the back of the mountain overlooking Burbank to the back side of the Hollywood sign. Just stay on this road and you have nothing to worry about.

I arrived at the sign and only wished that there was not a fence standing between us. I looked through the fence at the back of the sign and noticed a few reasons why it could have been placed there. Many of them were safety concerns. The mountain from the top is pretty steep, one slip and you might end up tumbling all the way down. There are cameras all around keeping watch. It is illegal to climb the fence and get any closer than I was. I walked over to the radio station and noticed another small trail to the top peak. I climbed up about 20 ft above the sign and you could see everything from there. Burbank to the north, Hollywood to the south, the sign right in front and even the Hollywood Reservoir in the distance.

There were only a few people when I first arrived, but the longer I stayed the more people came. It was like someone had dropped off a bus load, but there were no buses or cars to be seen. I was glad I had gotten there so early and had a few minutes of quiet. I decided  to head back down the trail taking more pictures as I went and enjoying my hike in the city. I got back to my car and thought to myself, ‘That was pretty cool. I would do it again.’

Seafood by the Malibu Ocean

IMG_8973One of my favorite restaurants by the ocean is Malibu Seafood. It is a  Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe that I try to stop by whenever I am in the area with a friend. Usually it is a first time experience for my friend and they are always left patiently waiting to go back soon.

After our strenuous Escondido Canyon Waterfall hike my friend and I stopped in for some seafood. We both decided to get their fried seafood, me choosing my favorite fried clams and her choosing the fish and chips option with cod. The cafe serves many different options of seafood, from grilled, to deep fried, to steamed. They also serve clam chowder and have fresh seafood salads. If you don’t feel like having something while you are there, you can even buy some fresh fish at the market and take it home with you to cook yourself. Whatever you choose I’m sure you will enjoy it. I have only heard wonderful reviews for this place.

The inside is super small, with a fresh market on one side and a counter to order meals on the other side, but the view from their three patios is breathtaking. Once you order your food you can sit back, relax and listen to the ocean crash against the shore as you can look out across the Pacific Coast Highway to the ocean and eat your delicious seafood. If you want, you can even get your food to go, cross the PCH, climb down some rocks, and eat your food right on the beach. There’s only great ways to enjoy a meal here so head down the Pacific Coast Highway and try it. You’ll be glad you did.

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