Starting Point: Moonstone Beach.
Hiking and walking are wonderful ways to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Cambria and the surrounding coastline. Of course, the most conveniently located trail to all of our properties is the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. This mile-long trail hugs the coastline following the eroded cliffs past coves, tide pools, and rock formations with views of San Simeon Point and the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Moonstone Beach Boardwalk is a favorite amongst locals and guests and is both easy and accessible with steps to the beach along the way. The following 3 trails offer distinctly different perspectives of the Central Coast.
#1 Fiscalini Ranch Preserve:
At the south end of the boardwalk, you will find the entrance to the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, one of the most beloved gems in Cambria, with outstanding trails for all skill levels, and several accessible trails that offer stunning vistas of the dramatic ocean bluffs for more than a mile alone the coastline. This 436-acre property has a wonderful history and is home to a number of endangered species and species of special concern, but was once slated to be a gated community and a golf course! The village of Cambria and Greenspace were instrumental in raising funds to purchase the property so it could remain forever-open space. The most outstanding natural feature of the preserve is the dramatic ocean bluff that runs more than a mile along the shoreline that rests within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary where in season you can view migrating whales, elephant seals and other ocean mammals. The Bluff Trail and the middle trails on the ranch are fairly easy, and the Bluff Ridge trail is ADA accessible for a short way. You can spot migrating whales, dolphins, sea otters, and a wide variety of birds and critters. It is a rare chance to experience a fully immersive country back road hike located minutes from the village and hotels. The meadows this spring are teeming with wildflowers and this is always free and open to the public dawn to dusk. The upper trails are slightly more difficult, and one can encounter poison oak, but the sunset shots are epic. Download the full trail map HERE https://www.ffrpcambria.org/pdf/FFRP-ranch-access-trails.pdf Please be sure to follow the designated trails and stay on the marked paths to preserve the natural habitat of the plants and animals. There are several benches located along the trails. Each bench is a unique piece of art and offers views of the ocean. There is parking at both ends of the Bluff Trail. Other trails have parking in residential neighborhoods. Dogs on leashes and horses in small groups by permit are allowed on some trails. (Call 805-909-1234 for permission to ride).
#2 Washburn Campground Trails:
For a more moderate hike, about 3 miles, check out the Highway 1 Discovery Route Hiking Trail that begins at the Washburn Campground, north of Cambria on the right just before you get to the San Simeon State Park Beach Campground. A 3.3 mile trail runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve and the Washburn Campground. The trail includes scenic overlooks, rest-stop benches and interpretive panels with information on wildlife and habitat. A portion of the trail along the seasonal wetland is wheelchair accessible. An excellent trail begins at the boardwalk’s end and continues south across the wetland and up into the pine trees. There is a side trail to an overlook above San Simeon Creek and the Park. The main trail then cuts north along the shady side of a bluff, crossing a creek or boggy area on another walk, then up a long hill to the upper State Park camping area. From here one can either cut left along the east side of the campsites and down along the road to the starting point, or to extend the walk continue through the narrow stile to a larger loop east, north and down to a eucalyptus grove, then back to the starting point.
#3 Limekiln Park
Just a bit north on highway one, you can experience Big Sur in this 716-acre park along highway one just south of Lucia, open 8am to sunset with a day-use vehicle fee of $10. The trails are for hikers only, no bikes or dogs allowed (except service animals) There is a short network of trails that head into the forest of oaks and second-growth redwoods. The main trail splits into 3 trails. The Hare Creek Trail is along the left side of Hare Canyon Creek, an easy walk through the redwoods and sorrel. It doesn’t have the waterfall or historic features of the other trails, but it might be the prettiest trail in the park as it winds through the redwoods but stays close the the picturesque Hare Creek. Be sure to allow some time to sit and enjoy the cool, fern-edged pool at trail’s end. Another easy half-mile walk is the Limekiln Trail, which crosses three scenic bridges on the way to the four enormous rusted lime kilns that once supplied lime, used for mortar in San Francisco’s earliest brick buildings. This peaceful retreat is complete with the sounds of the rippling creek and the rustle of breezes through the redwoods. Continue your hike along Limekiln Creek to the spectacular 100-foot waterfall, a vertical drop over a limestone fall wall offering views into the park’s interior. There is an unofficial trail to the left side of the falls that offers a closer view of the pool at the base, but it is a steep and slippery climb so use extreme caution if you venture off onto this unofficial trail. Note: poison oak is present in the park but can be avoided by staying on the official trails. Caution should also be used on the smaller stream crossings at the base of the Limekiln Falls.
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