1/15 Morro Bay State Park and checking in on the Monarchs
Morro Bay State Park this cool winter day seemed like a good time to start. This state park covers a large area between the town of Morro Bay and Los Osos/Baywood Park. It extends East into the hills and includes most of the sandspit enclosing the bay. South Bay Boulevard heads almost due north from Los Osos Valley Road in Los Osos and drives right up the middle of the park area. There are at least two places to park off the East side of the road that have trail head access. We were looking to explore the hills so we took the first gravel paved turnout North of Turri Road. This put us right at the start of Park Ridge Road. There is a gate and enough space to park a few cars next to a trail head sign and information board. That rock lump, by the way, is curiously named Tiki Rock.
After our walk in the hills we took the opportunity to check in on the monarch butterflies in the near by Monarch Grove.
places on the California coast where the monarch butterflies can be seen hanging around from about October to February. One of the larger ones near us is in the Pismo Beach area but Morro Bay has its own grove at the end of the aptly named Monarch Lane. From Los Osos Valley Road going East through the town of Los Osos, just past where the road jogs left and the name changes to Pecho Valley Road, take a right turn on Monarch Lane. At the end of the lane there is a sign and a trail head leading into the eucalyptus trees. We saw a few butterflies darting here and there and there were a few clumps high in the trees but I have seem far more on other visits. Maybe most of the butterflies had moved on or its possible this is a bad year for the monarchs but I have heard that the numbers of these butterflies in the groves have been steadily decreasing. The coastal California eucalyptus groves are just one stop in the multi generation migrations of these critters. Housing developments and other losses of habitat here and all along the monarch's path have had quite an impact on the number of butterflies that make the journey.