Wetlands Hiking with the Birds

by Sep 29, 2014

Want to go to Elkhorn?

I guess that means I’m driving.

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve tl;dr

Trips and travel doesn’t always need to be far from home. Recently we’ve decided to find adventures in our own backyard without jumping on a plane with a trip one hour south of home to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The bay area is made up of many lovely hiking trails. Personally for me, I adore hiking anywhere I can see some water, a really calming view for me and when I saw an opportunity to hike somewhere near water and eat at a famous restaurant nearby, I jumped on the opportunity.

Wildin’ Out in the Watsonville Wetlands

Driving from San Jose, 17 to Hwy 1 is the route to Elkhorn. Once you pull into Elkhorn, follow the road and there is a parking lot on the left. Parking can be slightly limited, arriving at 1:30pm, we got the last spot. Right in front of the parking lot there is a visitors center where there are bathrooms and you can check in.

At check in there is a $4 per person per day fee to walk around the park, pick up a map of the trails and if you’d like, borrow a pair of binoculars. Before actually starting on the trails, the nice park rangers will ask you to brush the bottom of your shoes. I don’t exactly know the reason why, it would make more sense to do it after but whatever, we did it and then went along our merry way to start our adventure.

Side View of Nadia Leaning on JM's Shoulder at Elkhorn Slough

Nadia Cleaning Her Shoes on a Brush at Elkhorn Slough

We started by heading to the trail on the right and essentially walking from trail to trail around the whole reserve. Some of our favorite parts of the trails were just seeing the different bodies of water. While I wish we saw more animals, there were a number of different bird species flying around and in the water. From birds diving to retrieve something in the water (perhaps fish or food of some sort) to large birds flying overhead, seeing both today simply reminded me how impressive nature can be when you simply take the time to observe the environment around you.

Walking around all the trails took us approximately three and a half hours with plenty of stops. If you get hungry easily I’d suggest bringing a snack and definitely a bottle of water to keep hydrated. Along the walk, the trails are all fairly flat so easy for anyone of any age of any fitness level to do. In addition, there are plenty of benches where one can rest and observe the beautiful scenery. There is not a lot of shade along the trail so for hot days, I’d heavily recommend bringing a hat and wear some sunscreen.

Overall, a beautiful way to spend the day walking around with friends or a loved one and at $4 a person, a very affordable day of exercise and nature.

Nadia is Sitting on a Wooden Bench at Elkhorn Slough

Nadia and JM at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

A Lone Bird at the Water's Edge at Elkhorn Slough

A Wooden Walk Way Leading into the Hills From the Water at Elkhorn Slough

Nadia Looking Through a Telescope at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Yellow Orange Flowers Blooming in the Grass at Elkhorn Slough

A Flock of Birds Drinking a the Waters Edge at Elkhorn Slough

A Tree at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Water Front

View of the Reserve Through the Fence with Smoke Stacks in the Distance at Elkhorn Slough

F8T Tip Watch out for mountain lions!

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve


What are your thoughts about terrain with no elevation… hike or walk?

You're going to eat, you might as well eat something tasty.
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