Morro Bay State Park
Morro Bay State Park, just south of the town of Morro Bay, stretches eastward from the shoreline into the coastal hills. Within its more than 2,700 acres are the Morro Estuary Natural Preserve—an 800-acre wetland—a heron rookery, and a museum of natural history, as well as a golf course, marina and accessible restaurant, campground with accessible sites, and picnic area. A trail by the marina is moderately accessible.
The heron rookery is located along State Parks Road just inside the park’s northwest entrance. From the parking area, a dirt path leads about 100 feet to a spot where, from February to June, you can see nesting great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, and egrets.
Visitor center: Situated atop a hill at water’s edge, with dramatic views of the Morro Bay Estuary and Morro Rock to the north, the Natural History Museum has hands-on exhibits about the estuary and bay ecosystems, tidal forces, geology, erosion, and how to preserve and protect the environment. Free lectures on the park’s natural history are in the auditorium every Monday, 10:15 am to noon, January through March. Next to the museum is a Chumash Indian garden, where you can learn how the Chumash used native plants.
State Parks Advisory:
Many of California's state parks are reducing hours of operation and limiting access to facilities because of budget cuts. We recommend that you consult State Parks' website
and contact the park directly before planning a visit.
Trailhead: Southwest end of the marina parking lot
Length: Under one mile total
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: GentleMostly level, but erosion in some places makes for a little rough riding
Terrain: FirmMay be muddy in wet weather
This trail loops around a strip of land across the inlet from the marina, but is only accessible along the inlet side of the loop. At the first junction, follow the trail to the right as it parallels the shoreline opposite the marina. Mostly coastal scrub grows here, and shorebirds are plentiful. The turnaround point is a large Monterey pine where the trail becomes too sandy to continue. This spot is perfect for lingering in the shade while admiring the view of Morro Rock, a nearly 600-foot-high volcanic outcrop in the shallow waters of the bay. The towering stacks of nearby Morro Bay Power Plant compete for your attention. On the return trip, several other morros, referred to locally as the Nine Sisters, are visible to the south and east.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
At the museum, campground, and marina. For the rookery, on State Park Road look for a stand of eucalyptus trees and a small pullout with a hard-packed dirt and gravel surface. There is no striping, but when it's not full, there is room to lower a lift.
At Natural History Museum
At the day-use area in the campground. One table off the museum parking lot may be accessible if you can navigate the approach, which is across hard-packed dirt but has a steep cross-slope.
Other Things of Interest
The Kayak Shack rents kayaks at the marina: (805) 772-8796.