Monday, March 19, 2012

Kirk Creek to Montana de Oro, Big Sur, California

Kirk Creek to Montana de Oro, Big Sur, California

This blog entry covers that portion of the Big Sur Coast from Kirk Creek to Montana de Oro State Park.  Technically, Big Sur ends somewhere north of Hearst Castle, but you would probably drive this segment in a day.  You might want to read these blog entries since they cover the same area:  Whales, Sea Otters, and Elephant Seals and Hearst Castle.

Drive north on California One up to Kirk Creek.  Then turn around and head south.  This will put you on the outside curve for cheap trills, but more important it will let you use turn-outs and get out and in of traffic safely.  If you tent camp or have a RV under 25 feet you can easily use these campgrounds.  Much above that and things will be tight.

Kirk Creek has been rated as one of the most scenic National Forest campgrounds.  The campground could use a little tender loving care, but the setting is spectacular overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Outside of Alaska there are not many National Forest campgrounds that you can watch sea otters.

Most of the campsites are short and tight.  This is more typical of the campsites available.

Here is the fee schedule for the Forest Service facilities in the area.  The picture at the top of the blog was taken at Sand Dollar Day Use site.  Worth stopping and visiting this beach.  There is a $5 daily use fee, but if you have a Federal pass that will also gain you entry.

Along the road there are trailheads for trails that head inland.  I loved hiking those trails in my youth.  Great backpacking in the Ventana Wilderness.  However, if you have only one day on the coast.  Stay close to the road and the ocean.  Here is the link to the other Forest Service recreation information.

Close to Hearst Castle you will find turn-outs along the road that provide access to the beaches and in some cases those elephant seals noted in the previous blog entry.

Now this was a sign I did NOT expect to find along the coast.  BLM lands??

But I was less than thrilled when I read this sign.  Click to enlarge.  YOUR public lands, except you cannot access without SPECIAL PERMISSION.   Now that rubs me the wrong way!!

A little bit south of here you run intoHearst San Simeon State Park.  This park accepts RV's up to 35 feet and charges $35 for a site without hookups.  If you have a RV under this size range this is a good option for exploring this region of the coast and Hearst Castle. 

Highway 1 continues south and a short cut-off will take you to Morro Bay.  The stacks of Morro Bay do take away from the setting.  The bay is a great birding area and salt marsh.  I confess I have a real weakness for salt marshes.  The only thing that comes close is the freshwater marshes of north Idaho.  

Careful walking through those sand dunes.  They harbor a healthy population of rattlesnakes.  Bugaboo has his rattlesnake vaccination, but Snowpatch does not.  Given his attitude towards wild pigs he might not stand a chance with rattlesnakes.  

Montana de Oro  will soon be California's largest state park.  Unfortunately, we came here on the weekend and like everything in California it was FULL.  We also discovered that dogs are NOT allowed on their trails!!  At this point Buggy had enough of State and National Parks!!  It is a scenic park worth a visit on a WEEKDAY.

There is one small campground.  Trailers are limited to 27 feet and the State Park made sure by shortening the campground spurs.  I suspect that had an issue with trailers on the access road to the Park and this was their strategy for dealing with it.  On a packed winter weekend, the campground was empty.  Now that California State Parks are suppose to be self-supporting this strategy might be "self-defeating".

After all this we headed to Hoppe's Bistro & Wine Bar.  Good service, good menu, good wine list.  Lunch is different than dinner.  If you want seafood you will want the dinner menu rather than lunch.  

It was a great Pacific Style Bouillabasse.  Great Bouilabasse.  I even liked the lemon grass.  Unfortunately, ALL seafood really needs to be just barely cooked.  The seafood was overcooked.  So we will give them another try next year.  But this time we will ask for the seafood to be served RARE!!

Oh well, almost the perfect cap to a great day exploring the central coast of California.


arch said...

I told you to try Tognazinnis Dockside!

Vladimir Steblina said...

We forgot all about it. I will consult my social secretary.

Where is Tognazinnis Dockside??

We were really impressed with the quality of the local wines in the area. We went to Costco and just bought wines on a random basis. Some were cheap and just outstanding.

Looks like we will come back down next winter.

Jann said...

Hi from another retired FS! I have been following and enjoying your travel blog for over a year now, and taken much of your advice.

What a surprise to find a picture of our travel trailer in this post. We were camped at Hearst San Simeon State Park when you must have come through.

We were probably walking the beaches looking for moon stones and such. We will be back down this winter .... or wandering somewhere along the Pacific coast.

Say Hi to Arch for me when you see him... Jann B

Tammy Le said...

hello i just wonder if the picture you post is from campsite #5? I am planning to have a trip there this upcoming DEC. since I book it last minute, there are only site number 1, 4, and 27 left. I never been there so I don't which one would be better. in the drawing map, both 4 and 27 are close to the restroom which I prefer not you know which sit will be away from the restroom more and have better view? thank you

Vladimir Steblina said...

Sorry, it has been a few years since I have been at the campground and I did not take notes of each photo.