Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of Salinas Valley, Pinnacles National Monument is the remains of an ancient volcano. Explore its massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and passages created by millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Enjoy hiking, climbing, bird watching and sightseeing within the monument's boundaries and 24,000 acres of wildlands. The Pinnacles' dramatic rock formations are a haven for technical climbers who crave the challenges and natural beauty. Trek along 30 miles of scenic hiking trails - from easy loops to wilderness trails - to access amazing geological formations, spectacular vistas and diverse wildlife populations. Visit www.nsp.gov/pinn.
Los Padres National Forest -
Discover a wildland adventure in Los Padres National Forest, which encompasses 1.75 million acres of central California's scenic Coast. Stretching across 220 miles from north to south, the forest consists of two land divisions. The northern division in Monterey County and northern San Luis Obispo County features the beautiful Big Sur Coast and scenic interior lands. Explore high mountains, canyons, forests, lakes, waterfalls, rivers and streams, and a wealth of recreation activities, such as hiking, camping, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle travel, picnicking, winter snow play, and cross-country skiing.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park -
Stretching from the Big Sur coastline into 3,000-foot ridges, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park features miles of rugged coastline, tall redwood and oak trees, scenic hiking trails, an 80-foot waterfall that cascades from granite cliffs into the ocean from Overlook Trail, and panoramic views of the Central California coast. This beautiful state park is a cherished destination for scuba diving, hiking and whale watching.
Point Lobos State Reserve -
Two miles south of Carmel, Point Lobos State Reserve is a coastal treasure with kaleidoscope skies and shifting seas. The crown jewel of the California State Parks, Point Lobos encompasses 750 acres of underwater wonders and 550 acres of protected trails with incredible views. Explore bold headlands, coves, colorful meadows, rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredible flora and fauna of land and sea. Recreational pursuits include scuba diving, jogging, sightseeing, nature study, birding, and photography. Witness the whales and dolphins off the coast, and hear the seals bark on offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos. Scuba dining is permitted only at Whalers and Bluefish Coves. Visit http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/Information.htm.
Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail -
Extending for one mile from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Lovers Point, the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is a scenic walking, jogging, bicycling, skating and rollerblading route along the northeastern coastline of Monterey. The Pacific Grove section of the trail is part of the recreation trail network which runs from Marina to Pacific Grove. Formerly located on the Southern Pacific Railroad Right-of-Way, the trail offers separate walking and cycling paths and companies that rent four-wheeled surreys for family sightseeing.
Monterey County Parks -
Monterey County's beautiful national, state and regional parks offer abundant outdoor recreation. Jacks Peak Park in Monterey offers excellent hiking trails and gorgeous mountain and coastal views. Lovers Point Park offers 4.4 acres for picnicking, fishing, swimming, water sports, and surfing. This community park features a large lawn, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, a beach volleyball court, a children's swimming pool, a concrete pier, a restaurant, a snack bar and the annual Feast of Lanterns pageant and fireworks celebration. Head to Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel for an afternoon picnic. Experience hiking and horseback riding at Andrew Molera State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur.
Monterey State Historic Park -
Monterey State Historic Park features historic buildings, restored gardens, adobes, and the State Historic Park Visitor's Center located in the Custom House Plaza. Take a 5-hour walking tour of Old Monterey's historic adobes and enjoy informative and enjoyable activities for the whole family.
Dennis-the-Menace Park -
This adventure-filled playground is known throughout California for its whimsical play equipment, which includes a drinking fountain inside the mouth of a lion, a swinging rope bridge, a roller slide, a life-sized hedge maze, and a real steam train engine. Created in 1956 by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, this free Monterey park celebrates the life of kids.
Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary -
Characterized by steep, crested ridges separating youthful valleys, Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary preserves the animal and plant species native to the Central Coast of California. The wilderness features a diverse topography of and open pine stands, streams, vertical-walled canyons, grass meadows, rocky slopes, waterfalls, deep pools and thermal springs for exploring. The Sanctuary's wildlife protection and habitat restoration are leading efforts to preserve endangered species in California, including the California Condor and Bald Eagle, as well as the Creamery Meadow restoration. Visit www.ventanaws.org.
Andrew Molera State Park -
Sutuated 23 miles south of Carmel, Andrew Molera State Park is the largest state park on the Big Sur Coast. A scenic, mile-long path leads to a delightful sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind by a large bluff to the north. The wide, natural path to the beautiful beach winds you through a meadow of colorful wildflowers and sycamore trees, offering outstanding views of the coastal mountain range. The path parallels the Big Sur River, which enters the sea near Molera's beach.
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