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Point Buchon

This section of pristine coastline on Pacific Gas and Electric property near Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, just south of Montaña de Oro State Park, opened to the public in July 2007. The 1.8-mile Point Buchon loop trail travels along the grassy bluffs above Coon Creek Beach to the Point Buchon headland, the westernmost point on the central coast, before returning to the trailhead. Another trail travels south from the loop trail along the coast for five miles.

The loop trail provides unobstructed views of the lovely, rarely seen Diablo Canyon coastline. Looking south you may see hordes of seagulls and pelicans perched on the table-like rocks. Cattle and sheep sometimes graze along the bluffs, and we spotted a coyote that wasn’t at all intimidated by our presence. Along the trail is a sinkhole, actually a sea cave that collapsed in the 1990s. A wood fence keeps visitors at a safe distance. The exposed walls of the sinkhole display layers of shale lifted and tilted by persistent geological forces.

Trail/Pathway Details

Point Buchon

Trailhead: At Coon Creek lot, southern end of Pecho Valley Road (road closed to public beyond trailhead lot), two miles past historic ranch house visitor center in MontaƱa de Oro State Park

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

An extremely steep approach to the guard station is on a paved road.

Terrain: Moderately Firm

It's a fairly bumpy ride and may be problematic for some.

Obstacles: There's no shade on the trail. Access around the locked gate at the paved road is about 32 inches.

Description

The paved access road to the guard station, where visitors must check in and sign a liability release form, is extremely steep and requires caution. It first dips down past coffeeberry and sage to Coon Creek Bridge, where you might get lucky and see steelhead trout, then travels up another extremely steep section to the station. As a precaution I had someone walk alongside me on the downhill, and the uphill section worked my motors to their limits. It was simultaneously scary and invigorating, and required my full attention. It was worth the effort, but I don't recommend trying it alone on your first visit.

Past the guard station the trail is dirt and gravel. Less than a quarter-mile in, my companion had to assist me when I started to lose traction on a moderate downhill slope. At the bottom of the slope, a trail on the right leads to Coon Beach but becomes inaccessible to wheelchair riders before its end. Shortly past that junction, an impressive sinkhole is a good place to stop and enjoy the view. From here the trail becomes bumpier, gradually climbs uphill, and parallels the coast. A steep rocky section at its crest was difficult to navigate and again required my friend's assistance. The reward at the top was unspoiled views of the coast, with many rocky outcrops.

At about the three-quarter-mile mark is a trail to return to the gatehouse, but a livestock fence prevents wheelchair access. From this point the trail continues along the coast another five miles, but I can't verify its accessibility; I chose to backtrack to the start, because the constant jostling from the bumpy terrain had become bothersome. The challenges this site poses for wheelchair riders are, however, overshadowed by its pristine coastline and feeling of serenity. It shouldn't be missed. 

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Accessible Parking: Limited Accessibility

Coon Creek lot, southern end of Pecho Valley Road (closed to public beyond trailhead), Montaña de Oro State Park; accessible spaces not marked

Accessible Restroom: Limited Accessibility

There's a tight turn on the approach to the portable restroom at the parking lot; the units on the trail are not accessible. 
Rocky outcrops with pelicans
Rocky outcrops with pelicans (Bonnie Lewkowicz )

Features icon key

  • hiking
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: pge.modwest.com/pgereservations/trailschild.php?pid=4
Managing Agency: Pacific Gas and Electric
Phone: (805) 541-8735
Hours: Thurs.-Mon.: April-Oct., 8 am-5 pm; Nov.-March, 8 am-4 pm
Fees: None
Dogs: Not allowed
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, September 18, 2009
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

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Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
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