Hiking the Central Coast

February 22, 2016

    Yesterday I went for a glorious hike up the Coast. I found myself thinking about how our environment can be an outdoor playground for all of us. The beautiful scenery, the sounds of waterfalls or the quiet forest, the smell of nature and pleasant people all contribute to enjoying the outdoors. This is just another way we can continue to maintain our healthy lifestyles. Hiking is also a great way to maintain aerobic fitness by burning calories which helps prevent weight gain. I believe that any time spent on the trail can contribute to an overall sense of well being and satisfaction. 

Muscle Conditioning for these  hikes

   So now your wondering how can you prepare your muscles for these hikes especially if your not working out at a gym. Simple Lunges, step ups, wall squats and tricep dips are really effective. These exercises target all your lower body muscles as well as help you with balance. If you want to incorporate some abdominal exercises try planks, v-sits or crunches. They will contribute to a strong core needed for maintaining your balance on those uneven surfaces along the trails. Here are a few of my favorite hikes....

Salmon Creek Trail

    As we hiked up the hill we heard the flowing of the waterfall. I felt like we were in a tropical rainforest. The trail was moist but well packed do to last weeks brief rain so the slippage was minimal. A good four hour hike left our thighs reminding us of our days adventure.

     Salmon Creek Trail is located in a large horseshoe bend on Highway One, 3.7 miles north of Ragged Point Inn (or 26 miles north of Cambria). If your coming from Monterey drive 33.6 miles south from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park  or 41.6 miles from the Nepenthe Restaurant turnoff in Big Sur. The trail to Salmon Creek Falls is located right on the bend in the road, south of the out-of-service Salmon Creek Ranger Station and Buckeye Trail. Dogs are welcome on all the trails.

Harmony Headlands Trail

    This an easy hike where you can enjoy seeing lots of our natural habitat in action. The swallows, whales, and crashing waves make this a fun place to come to. The  green valleys (after a good rain) and bluffs are covered in grasses and sagebrush. At the end of the bluff you can appreciate the beautiful views of our coastline taking in the smells of the salty air. 

    To find Harmony Headlands from San Luis Obispo, drive 25 miles north up Highway One to Harmony Headlands State Park. Turn left into a small trailhead parking area.There is room for maybe 10 vehicles and you will be at the start of the trail. From highway 46 west and highway 1, head south 4.5 miles.The parking area is on the right hand side.

Fiscalini Ranch Bluff Trail

    My all time favorite and one I'm on at least three time a week is this bluff trail. Walking along the the 20-40 foot cliffs where the ocean meets the forest one can see a variety of wildlife. Egrets, red tailed hawks, dolphins, seal lions, butterfly colonies, whales and even coyotes. It's very dog friendly and the smiles on their faces tell just how much they too enjoy the walks. The upper trails wind around the forested area while the lower ones give great views of the bright blue ocean. I pinch myself every day appreciating that i have this in my own backyard. 

    To get to the trail from San Luis Obispo, drive 34.2 miles north up Highway One to Cambria. Turn left at the traffic light onto Windsor Boulevard. Pass Moonstone Beach Drive and make a sharp left passing  Shamel  Park.  Go 1.1 miles to the end of Windsor Boulevard. You can park along the street or in one of the few spots at the end of the road by the entrance to Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

Whatever you choose to do get out and enjoy the outdoors.... your head, heart and body will thank you!