|Coastal bluffs north of Pescadero Creek|
To get here, we drove approximately forty miles south of San Francisco on Highway 1. When we crossed the bridge over Pescadero Creek, we took an immediate right into the first parking lot for the beach. There's a rudimentary bathroom there, and a heartening sign about bi-monthly marshland walks--we were in the right place.
|Sequoia Audubon Trail Map,|
Our destination was the Sequoia Audubon Trail along the southern edge of North Marsh, one of several trails in the 600 acres of protected marshland. We had read that there was always wildlife present (230 bird species annually), and plenty of flora (200 species), including some wild and weirdly shaped eucalyptus trees that had been gnarled by old floods. Most essential for my physical state, the roundtrip mileage was about two miles.
We went by foot north across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway, then under the bridge.
The beach was so compelling that we could've spent a day just hanging out here. The sand was soft, and the confluence of Pescadero Creek and the Pacific Ocean seemed like a magical site for wildlife. The beach itself was full of twisted driftwood and human-made sculptures that were like windbreaks, and very few people. Sand pipers scampered along the shoreline in swift-moving flocks, and gulls sailed overhead. An informational kiosk, burnt yellow by the sun, informed us that rainbow trout, also known as steelhead when they reach the sea, spawned here.
We walked under the bridge, traveling along the creek's smooth, sandy shoreline for about a hundred feet. The sand was so soft, and the water so still, it was tempting to stay here all day too. But we saw a trailhead to our left with a small sign reading SEQUOIA AUDUBON TRAIL, and went down it.
The trail was sandy, soft on bare feet. On either side grew a kind of coyote brush I hadn't seen before, very low lying, close to the ground. I recognized lots of coastal buckwheat, and wondered what butterflies might be here come springtime.
|Sequoia Audubon Trail start|
Other plants we saw included healthy bushes of lupine, still to bloom later in the season, feathery-leafed yarrow, and invasive (but pretty when flowering) ice plants.
Eventually the trail was hard packed earth, though because of the amount of sandy stretches, I would highly discourage anyone to attempt this with a stroller.
|Dusky footed woodrat|
We rested on a weathered bridge leading to the North Marsh Trail, and ate oranges in the sunshine. Our daughter pretended she was a goat from the Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale.
We continued on, and some docents we met suggested we eat our lunch at Turtle Pond, half a mile up on the right hand side before a bunch of dusky-footed woodrat nests.
|Great Egret, credit: wikipedia|
|The wild-looking eucalyptus|
We passed an incredibly twisted eucalyptus tree along the trail that had been shaped by floods. The thick branches hung low to the ground, and were like magnets for our small child. Shadows and light filtered over branches and leaves, and we could've easily spent the rest of the day here, hugging the tree.
Only a mile or so along Sequoia Audobon was a short and somewhat overgrown path veering to the right, and we took it, hoping it would lead us to Turtle Pond as the docents instructed. Water glimmered through the trees.
|Western pond turtle, credit: Wikipedia|
We did walk further on the Sequoia Audubon--we'd been told there was a lookout and loop at the top of a low hill just up the way. But the day was cold, though sunny, and after we passed by a half dozen dusky woodrat nests, and under willow trees loaded with buds that were not yet in bloom, shivering in the shade, we turned around. We had had a great walk and picnic, and would return again another day.
|Ronnie Duarte and our waitress, Bernadette|
|The Highway 1 bridge over Pescadero Creek|
|Land along Pescadero Beach|
|Sequoia Audubon Trail|
|Sequoia Audubon Trail thinking|
|Heading east on the trail|
|The little trooper and her momma (above)|
and with her daddy too (below)
|Driftwood sculptures along the creek|
|Pie and ice cream at Duarte's Tavern|
--a post prandial perambulation delight
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