Past Meetup

Mating Season! Ano Nuevo State Park: 4.1-Mile Really Easy Hike

This Meetup is past

20 people went

Price: $7.00 /per person
Location image of event venue


I bought 20 tickets for Saturday, February 22. You can reimburse me via PayPal at username [masked] or via check or money order addressed to "Kyra" for $7/ticket at mailing address: Kyra, 650 Castro Street, Suite[masked], Mountain View, CA 94041.

This is a 2.5-hour tour guided by the park. Tickets are $7. You MUST arrive promptly at 1:45 at the visitor center for the 2:00 tour, plus allow 15 minutes for parking and gathering.

4.1-mile loop to an elephant seal overlook, along the coast, this hike is easy, although the trails pass through some sections of loose sand. Elevation change is minimal.

Be prepared for windy, rainy conditions, as well as muddy trails. Layered clothing, sturdy shoes and hooded rain gear are recommended. Bring bottled water for drinking.

Important Note: There is only one safe place to park which is the paid parking lot inside the park. Outside the park there are frequent break-ins.

Parking fee: $10/car. Park ranger requests we pay with tens and not twenties.

Meeting time: 1:45 for a 2:00 tour.

Hiking time: 2-1/2 hours.

Rules: No dogs. No food.

Meeting place: the Visitor Center.

Getting there: From CA 1 in San Mateo County, turn west into the park. The entrance is 12 miles south of Pescadero Road, 3 miles south of Rossi Road, and just north of the San Mateo/Santa Cruz County border.

After hike: If anyone wants to grab a bite to eat after the hike, we will be going to the historic Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, CA. This family-owned tavern has been in business since 1894 and is world renowned for their cioppino.

Duarte's Tavern is located at 202 Stage Road, Pescadero CA 94060. After leaving Ano Nuevo, you return to Highway 1, go north until you reach the town of Pescadero sign. Turn right on Pescadero Road and travel 2 miles to a stop sign. Duarte's Tavern is on the left at the intersection of Pescadero and Stage Roads.

Trailhead details: Lots of parking in a paved lot. Maps, drinking water, and restrooms at trailhead. Pay phone at entrance station. There is no direct public transportation to the reserve.

Additional rules: "Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Trails are open to hikers only. No food is permitted in the wildlife protection area (a good excuse for an after-hike lunch of green chili soup at Duarte's in Pescadero). Although you can take a short loop through the reserve's main unit year round, if you want to hike through the wildlife protection area you can do so by permit (available the same day at the reserve) from April to November. From December to March the protection area is accessible only via guided docent walks, and you must pre-register."

Exposure: Full sun.

Trail traffic: Moderate.

Trail surfaces: Dirt trails and loose sand.

Season: Nice year round, but from December to March the protection area is accessible only via guided docent walks, and you must pre-register.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 37° 7'11.07"N
Longitude 122°18'26.49"W
(* based on Google Earth ( data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, and restaurants north a few miles along CA 1. At Costanoa (, on Rossi Road, you can buy great foods to go at the deli, or use a pay phone. No camping in any of the Año Nuevo units, but you can camp at Costanoa.

The Official Story:
CSP's Año Nuevo page (
Park office[masked]

Map Choices:
• This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber. Order this book from (
• CSP's park map ( (pdf)
• Trail Map of the Santa Cruz Mountains(map 2), by the Sempervirens Fund (includes Big Basin, Butano, and Skyline-to-the Sea), is a good map to the unit.
• Tom Taber's Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book (order this book from ( has a simple map.
• Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, Frances Spangle, and Betsy Crowder (order this book from ( has a simple map and some reserve information.

Año Nuevo in a nutshell ( -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike ( (trails are routed slightly differently than shown in the photos)"

(Text above and below quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)

"Año Nuevo State Park encompasses miles of San Mateo county coastline and a separate backcountry unit, but most people know the reserve as the northern California destination to see elephant seals.

During the elephant seals' mating and birthing season, from December to March, the only way to see the seals is on a docent-lead walk. Reservations are hard to come by; easier if you can finagle a weekday visit. From April to November, simply show up at the reserve headquarters and ask for a visitor permit. Staff members can guide you to the most likely spots in the protection area to see seals.

You can explore Año Nuevo's undeveloped coastline north of the protected area from a string of small trailheads along CA 1, where primitive trails wander through sand dunes to quiet beaches. The reserve also manages a "backcountry," which stretches east uphill into the Santa Cruz Mountains. While this unit, called Cascade Ranch (, is attached to the bulk of the park's coastline property, it feels completely separate, and possesses none of the amenities offered at the park headquarters.

This hike is also good spot for bird watching -- raptors including redtail and coopers hawks are frequently sighted, as are goldfinches and wrens.

In addition to the famously protected elephant seals, California sea lions, harbor seals, and steller sea lions visit or live in the area. We might also see dolphins.

A short and beautiful boardwalk leads to the viewing area where you can often spot seals just off the shore. You may hear the elephant seals' distinctive vocalizations (kind of like the competitive deep drawn-out belly burps of teenage boys), a sure sign that seals are not far away.

There are also sweeping views to Año Nuevo Island and North Point."

(Text above and below quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)

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