Sunday, May 27, 2012

Montana de Oro State Park

View Montana de Oro State Park in a larger map

  • Hiking Trails
  • Biking Trails
  • Equestrian Trails
  • Camping
  • Beaches
  • Beach Coves
  • Valencia Peak (1,347-foot)
  • Spooner’s Cove
  • Corallina Cove
  • Tide pools in Corallina Cove
  • Seals
  • Wildlife (Deer, Oystercatcher, Rattle Snake, Lizards, Western Gull)
  • View of Morro Rock 

More Info
  • Free parking
  • Free admission
  • Restrooms at several places in the state park
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes 

Montana de Oro State Park, one of the largest state parks in California is one place where I would never feel wearied even if I spend an entire week here. The park features so many hiking trails along the coast and in the mountains that they is no way there would ever be a dull moment here. The golden windflowers found in the park earned its other popular name, “Mountain of Gold”.

I am surprised that this state park was enlisted as one of the 48 California State Parks that was proposed to be closed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, but I am glad it survived! This place is a beauty that everyone must have access to.

Spooner’s Cove

As people who get sparked by wild ocean, spooky caves, tide pools, hole-in-the-rock formations, rock climbing, this park satisfied us in every possible dimension. We drove to the popular Spooner’s Cove to see the iconic hole-in-the-rock formation on a cliff. 
Hole in the rock formation in Spooner's Cove

Spooky cave in Spooner's Cove

If you are prepared to get your hands and pants soiled, go ahead and climb on the nearby rocks; the adventure and the unique seascapes is totally worth it. If needed, crawl on those steep rocks; it is nothing but fun! We spent a little over an hour in Spooner’s Cove and walked uphill for a bit to take the Bluff Trail.

Spooner's Cove
Bluff Trail

Length: 2 miles; Elevation: Insignificant; Time: 1.5 hours; Difficulty: Easy

This easy 2-mile trail on an 80-foot cliff took us along the Pacific Coast, offering some of the breathtaking views. A lookout from the trail imparted a stunning aerial view of the Spooner’s Cove, Morro Rock and stacks of the Morro Bay powerplant to the far right.

View from Bluff Trail (Morro Rock seen far behind)

As we walked on the trail, a detour took us down to the Corallina Cove, known for its rich tide pools. We prudently walked on the slippery tide pools to see some of the most exotic sea life. The crystal clear water in the tide pools revealed tide pool sculpins, shield limpets, surf crass, shore crabs, sea anemone, sea urchins, abalones, rock crabs and hermit crabs

Tide pools in Corallina Cove

As we were searching for other sea animals, we noticed a huge sea star in one of the tide pools. Bunches of California Mussels were clustered next to the tide pools. Don’t miss out the camouflaged seals basking on the rocks just off the shore. I heard a visitor mentioning that she saw a couple of double-colored striped rattle snakes back on the trail. We were so engrossed watching the rich marine life in the tide pools that we did not even notice time fly by.

California Mussels

We continued on our trail and returned to the car. Although I wanted to hike the 1347-foot Valencia Peak and take several other coastal trails, we were so enervated and ravenous that we bookmarked them in our “to-do” list when we visit the SLO County another time.

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