The Ultimate Road Trip travel blog

California Coastline

Buzzard's Roost Trail

From Atop Buzzard's Roost

Elephant Seals

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle Pool


Departed Salinas shortly after 8. First stop was Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is about an hour south of Salinas on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or CA 1. Followed the River Path along the Big Sur River (I may already have mentioned this but it doesn’t take much for something to be called a river out here. This “river” can be leapt across at many spots and is ankle to knee deep in most places.) for .5 miles. Crossed a bridge and hooked up w/ the Buzzards Roost Trail which was 1.8 miles to the top. After some gradual elevation at the bottom, the trail took on a fairly sharp ascent w/ many switchbacks. At the top it was a treeless peak w/ some nice views in all directions. Almost immediately as I started down, I got stung in the back of the head by a bee. Left a bit of a welt and hurt for a while but I survived. Between both directions on these 2 trails and some other tangents, I figure I hike around 5 miles. Left the park around noon.

It had been sunny coming down from Salinas but as soon as I got south of Big Sur the fog (or marine layer as the locals like to call it) rolled in over the coast although the visibility on the road remained good. I was glad I had stopped for some coast line pictures north of Big Sur. The fog came and went for the next 50 miles. I did stop a couple of times when the fog broke to snap a few pictures. I stopped for lunch at the Ragged Point Inn and Resort. There was also a plaza area that a had a restaurant, a walkup food place, ice cream, gas station w/ minimart, and a souvenir shop. There was a trio playing oldies so it made for a nice place to stop. Apparently there are also some great views from here but the fog was thick while I was there. Up to this point the cliffs, which is where the road runs atop, were high above the shoreline. Shortly after Ragged Point, the terrain dropped off quickly, and became more like pasture land w/ the ocean must closer to the level of the road.

It was only another 15 miles to Hearst Castle which was the other major stop I wanted to make today. A few miles north of Hearst I saw a sign for a “Vista Point” so I thought I might as well stop. As I approached, I saw what I thought was an inordinate amount of people on this deck type structure. I thought I can’t imagine the view is that great for all these people to be bunched together like that. I found out when I got there what they were looking at were probably 100 elephant seals lounging on the beach. There were a bunch of them packed together right at the shoreline then some back in loose sand. The ones in the sand would use their flipper to toss sand up in the air and onto their backs. Spent a few minutes taking some pictures then moved on to the Hearst Castle.

It was now 3 and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to actually get a tour but turns out they ran until 4:30 or so. So, I jumped on a 3:10 tour. It was a 15-20 ride up the hill from the visitor’s center to the home. The tour I had was just for the rooms on the first floor but it still lasted an hour. I’ve been through a lot of these mansions the last few years and they are all rather similar. What made this one somewhat unique were the grounds. There are several “cottages” surrounding the main building, there is a nice looking pool, and the grounds are very well landscaped. After the 20 minute bus ride back to the visitors center it was after 5 before I got on the road again.

When I plugged my destination into the GPS I was disappointed to see I still had a 3 hour drive. Then, apparently because at this point 101 goes directly south then east, the GPS took me off of US 101 and onto this back road that goes off diagonally for 40 miles. If I’d had it to do over I’d have stayed on 101 because it was also dark by this time. Back on 101 at Santa Barbara, ran into some heavy stop and go traffic at various points the remaining 40 miles to Oxnard. Finally got to the hotel close to 9.

Steps 15707/472033 Bike 0/68.1

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