Explore the natural wonders of Morro Bay
—Those who live here often refer to Morro Bay as a paradise because this coastal town is home to an abundance of wildlife, stunning landscapes, challenging peaks and important natural preserves. The National Audubon Society lists the town as a Globally Important Bird Area. Over 200 species of birds have been sighted here. Wildlife that flourishes in this protected region includes sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals and a variety of other animals. What better way to experience the abundant wildlife and exhilarating views than by hiking through the outdoors?
With Morro Rock as your landmark, head down to the waterfront for an easy paved walk that is leashed dog friendly. There are two designated accessible parking spaces in the parking lot off the Embarcadero at the east end of the trail. Watch for the cormorants and grebes that frequent this area. You also have a good chance of seeing sea otter mothers with their pups feeding or resting in the eelgrass.
Morro Rock is an ecological preserve for nesting peregrine falcons. These birds build nests on both the north and south sides of the rock. Bring binoculars. Peregrines prey on small birds. You may spot one as it soars off the cliffs on a hunting spree or snatches up unsuspecting shorebirds.
Black Hill Trail
This 2.5-mile trail is moderately challenging and takes a little over an hour. The trail leads through Flemings Forest, a stand of Monterey Pine that was planted by former park superintendent John Fleming. Leashed dogs are welcome.
The trailhead is at Main St. and Parkview Dr., Morro Bay.
Cerro Cabrillo Peak
Cerro Cabrillo Peak is the third peak of the Nine Sisters volcanic peaks. The trail to the 911-foot peak is a 2.5-mile challenging round trip. Hikers and mountain bikers who master the challenging portions of the trail to the summit are rewarded with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
There is much to be seen and enjoyed along the trail and you can turn back at any time. Along the way to the summit of the Cerro Cabrillo peak, hikers have the option to take an easier climb to Turtle Rock or the 329-foot Portola Hill and enjoy some great ocean views.
The trailhead is from South Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay.
Cloisters Wetlands to Morro Rock
Along with the playground, public restrooms and public barbeque and picnic areas the wetlands feature a 4.5- mile round-trip trail to Morro Rock. Leashed dogs are welcome.
Cloister Wetlands Park is located at 2501 Coral Ave., Morro Bay.
Morro Strand State Beach
Morro Strand State Beach stretches from the town of Morro Bay north to Cayucos. The protected beach combines camping, surfing, picnics, fishing and birdwatching in a variety of coastal environments. Portions of the beach are closed to protect sensitive habitats or restoration sites.
More hiking trails than time
Morro Bay State Park has more hiking trails in addition to those already mentioned. The 2700-acre park is home to the Heron Rookery State Reserve, a mating and hatching area for blue herons, great egrets, black-crowned night herons and double-crested cormorants.
Visit morrobay.org for more information about hiking and other outdoor adventures.