Best of Monterey Bay® Visitors Guide

38 The Best of Monterey Bay ® 2023-2024 At Play meanders along the waterfront for 18 miles starting at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove at the south and ending—for now—in Castroville. Pacific Grove to Castroville. Old Coast Road Off-road riders will find some of the area’s most rugged and scenic mountain trails along the 11-mile stretch that was once the main road before Highway 1 existed. Entrances off Highway 1, east of Bixby Bridge and Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur. Salinas Valley On a sunny weekend afternoon, there are few things more relaxing than cycling the farm roads around the Salinas Valley lettuce fields. The sky is enormous, the roads are flat and the only thing you’ll hear is the sound of romaine growing. Off Highway 68 at Reservation and River roads, Toro County Park This park suffered extensive damage from a 2020 wildfire, but miles of well-maintained trails have reopened, winding through the county’s second-largest mountain biking area. Off-road fanatics rave about the fast downhills and the plenitude of single-track trails. The summit area provides sweeping vistas of the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley. Stay on mountain bike trails to let hikers and bikers coexist peacefully. Highway 68, Salinas. (831) 484-1108, Bike Rentals Adventures By the Sea 210 Alvarado St., at Custom House Plaza, Monterey 685 Cannery Row, Monterey 299 Cannery Row, Monterey (831) 241-1125, Big Sur Adventures 125 Ocean View Blvd., Suite 122 (in the American Tin Cannery), Pacific Grove (831) 747-1677 2106 Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove (831) 717-4912, Epicenter Cycling 230 LIghthouse Ave., Monterey (831) 920-1804, *Rental bikes not available at time of publication but will be stocked. Call store first. Mad Dogs & Englishmen Corner of Ocean and Mission, Carmel (831) 250-7687 400 Cannery Row, Monterey (831) 230-0567 Pacific Grove Adventures 624 Ocean View Blvd. (at Lovers Point), Pacific Grove (831) 241-1125 Workhorse Bicycles 486 Washington St., Monterey (831) 375-2144, Bird Watching From tiny, flittering snowy plovers to massive California condors with a wingspan of up to 9.5 feet, there’s no shortage of diversity in the bird life in Monterey County. All of the hiking and beach destinations listed above are good for spotting the 482 different species of birds in the county, but a few places stand out as birding destinations. Asilomar State Beach Just above the beach, boardwalk trails wend through dunes. Turn your gaze away from the ocean and upward on a ranger-led tour to see how much bird life there is here, or take a selfguided tour. Adjacent to Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove. (831) 646-6440, asilomar.interp@, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve The 1,700-acre reserve just inland from coastal Moss Landing is teeming with wildlife. It’s a popular spot for kayaking and other paddle sports to see sea otters and other marine life, but it’s also a place to walk slowly, binoculars ready, looking up at the trees. For a guided experience, join an early bird tour the first Saturday of the month. 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville. (831) 728-2822, elkhornslough. org/birding Laguna Grande Park This 13-acre park includes an urban wetland that is a birder’s paradise, and attracts some unique species, like Heermann’s gulls. Del Monte Boulevard to Fremont Boulevard at Canyon Del Rey, Seaside and Monterey. Resources Monterey Audubon Society Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History The bird collection is viewable at 185 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 648-5716, Ventana Wildlife Society Information on condors (plus animal cams). Camping and Hiking The epic hikes and camping options in Monterey County could fill this publication by themselves—and they’ll fill imaginations for years. Be prepared with water, snacks, layers and a map—and be on the lookout for notorious poison oak (avoid it) and wildlife (watch, but don’t feed it). Bring water and a map and be prepared for rugged terrain. The wild places are wondrous, and best enjoyed with a few precautions. Andrew Molera State Park This 5,000-acre park stretches along the Pacific for four miles, with access to one of the longest beaches in Big Sur. It offers fishing, hiking, equestrian and picnic facilities. A footbridge over the Big Sur River is installed seasonally. 21 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Big Sur. (831) 667-2315, Garland Ranch Regional Park Miles of nature and equestrian trails wind through this 4,500-acre park, a local favorite that rises from the Carmel River to the headlands of the Santa Lucia range. An hour of energetic uphill hiking affords sweeping panoramic views, or follow creeks (with seasonal Pinnacles National Park Karen Loutzneheiser