As part of our “twenty four hikes this year” project, I’ve been keeping an eye on the POST Hiking Calendar. Pescadero Marsh was the easiest option for January, and I thought the boys would like an easy hike to start the year off on the right foot. We added The North Pond Trail to the Sequoia Audubon Trail with a bit of beach walking, for a total of just over three miles, with 65 feet of elevation gain. Turned out to be a strong choice, as even this light hike was a bit of a challenge after a few months off.
It was a lovely walk, however, after a very scenic drive. Pescadero Marsh is right across Highway 1 from Pescadero State Beach, located between Half Moon Bay and Davenport. The guide warned us it can be very foggy, but we had a warm afternoon, with plenty of beautiful light. We parked at the northernmost Pescadero State Beach parking lot, which cost $8, and did have an open restroom. We crossed the highway and found the entrance to the North Pond Trail. The ranger at the kiosk told us there had been Bald Eagle sightings in the eucalyptus groves around the marsh. We had a big camera lens and two pairs of binoculars, so we were hopeful.
Our first wildlife encounter was a black and hairy caterpillar, right near the start of the trail head. Noah used his binoculars to study it closely. Then we found an egret, and shortly after that we saw a Northern Harrier. We climbed up and over the one hill on our hike, and headed for the first of several small footbridges. Then we started to see the ducks. As we left North Pond, and headed inland a bit, crossing more bridges, we saw buffleheads, coots and shovelers. We never did see the bald eagle, but the variety of waterfowl and hawks was exciting.
About halfway to the turn around on the Sequoia Audubon trail there is an epic climbing tree for young hikers. Our boys had visited the tree several times with a summer camp guide, but this was the first time we were seeing it. We were hiking shortly after a rain, so the marsh had crept up under the tree, but in a drier season, it’s a great place to hang out and have an adventure.
We didn’t make it all the way to the end of the trail, as the mud became impassable just a bit bfore the last viewing platform. So we turned around and headed back towards the beach. We walked back along the marsh and crossed under Highway 1 to get to the ocean. The boys were excited to play at the beach, to dig holes and chase waves, but it was much colder and windier than we expected. After watching the sun sink and stepping on some of the washed up foam, we called it a day.
Birders, re-entry hikers, California coast enthusiasts, don’t miss this walk.
Check out our video: