10/24 The Elfin Forest
A little before Halloween we took time to explore a short boardwalk hike through the Elfin Forest near Los Osos, California. This part of Moro Bay State Park is named for the stands of Pygmy Oaks that make it such an unusual place. Moro Bay and Los Osos are often bathed in fog and the damp encourages shaggy drapes of moss on the branches of the small trees adding to the fairy tale appearance.
To find the Elfin Forest take Los Osos Valley Road West from Highway 101 just south of San Luis Obispo. Just as the road enters the town of Los Osos make a right on South Bay Boulevard. At the intersection you'll start seeing signs directing the way to the trail head. Follow S. Bay Blvd. about 1.4 miles and turn left on Santa Ysabel Avenue. The first right is 17th street and at the end of the block is the trail head. A short path through the dunes will take you to the board walk, a less than 1 mile loop with short side paths to overlooks on the bay and estuary.
The board walk winds down through coast scrub brush where you'll see and hear lots of bird action if you make the hike in morning or late afternoon. We heard more birds than we could see and the sun was already high enough to end the morning bird party. The lower part of the board walk on the bay side of the dune (everything is growing on sand here) gets into the thick of the mini oaks. Somewhere in the middle of the loop there is a side path into Rose's Grove, a good place to sit under the little trees with benches provided.
If you are after a longer walk, the area around Los Osos, Moro Bay, and Montaña do Oro State Park offer a whole mess of hiking trails. If you bring a canine pal, don't forget the leash, they are required in the state parks. From the overlooks on the board walk there are good views of the bay and the estuary, a popular stopover for all sorts of migrating shore birds, so bring your binoculars if it's that avian-travel-time of year. As I mentioned the area is often socked in with fog particularly in the mornings and much of the summer, so the view of the bay may not be this clear.
The board walk is considered to be wheelchair friendly (though the first bit through the sand could be a challenge) so this is a good choice for anyone with less mobility or stamina, but if you're a 20 mile a day walker don't pass this up just because it's short. The Elfin Forest and the bay offers anyone a pleasant walk.
**hi there, mrs. a-go-go here, i just wanted to point out that mr. a-go-go forgot the part about the harmonica playing serenade. if yer lucky, when you pull up you may catch an awesome visual of a man in an orange hat accompanying a singing seagull with his harmonica. for reals yo!