It would be easy to miss SLO County’s Harmony Headlands State Park, a secluded 784 acre gem located on Highway One between the artisan hamlet of Harmony and the sleepy little coastal town of Cayucos-by-the-Sea. The tiny 10-space parking lot adjacent to the highway belies the popularity of the solitary hiking trail that follows a well worn track through grasslands, wetlands and scrub brush until it peters out atop a series of windswept bluffs on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Open from 6 a.m. to sunset, the Harmony Headlands State Park is without doubt a tiny slice of hiking heaven on California’s Central Coast.
The 1.5 mile (3.0 mile roundtrip) hike begins at the Ellysly Creek Trail Head — as you cross the bridge watch out for the Southwestern pond turtles below — before rising gently to the west and passing a small historic bunk house (with an exterior portable toilet) before leisurely descending between the hills towards the ocean. There’s very little shade on the trail itself except for a small stand of Eucalyptus trees on the descent to bluffs above the Pacific Ocean so be sure to wear a hat. Indeed, the only relief from the heat is provided via a gentle sea breeze at the tail end of the hike. Benches have been provided along the route (courtesy of the Cayucos Land Conservancy) which allows for a number of rest breaks along the way.
I walked this easy trail with my wife in early March in glorious weather in above average temperatures. The wetlands were almost dry but, in spite of the arid appearance of our immediate surroundings, there was plenty of flora and fauna to see; from turtles, lizards and egrets to lupines and California poppies. Check out the slideshow for the panoramic views, ocean vistas and a small sampling of the wildlife that you can enjoy on this hike.
Where to Camp:
San Simeon Creek Campground at San Simeon State Park can handle RV’s up to 35 feet. There are 115 campsites (no hookups). The campground provides, restrooms, pay showers and water spigots plus a dump station with fresh water fill for RV’ers| Generators 10am-8pm |
A primitive campground located on a plateau approximately 1 mile above the San Simeon Creek Campground. Camp sites — which can handle RVs up to 35 feet — include a fire ring and picnic table. The campground provides water spigots and pit toilets. RVers can use the dump station and water fill-up at San Simeon Creek campground. | Generators 10am-8pm |
Morro Bay State Park: A 140 site campground (11 ADA sites) on Slate Park Road situated within the 2,700 acre State Park. This secluded wetlands RV Park has 30 pull-through hookup sites (water and 30amp electric) and can handle motorhomes and trailers up to 35 feet. The dump station includes fresh potable water so if you can’t get a site with hookups you can always dry camp – use a generator (10am-8pm) – and take advantage of the showers and restrooms on-site to minimize your water usage (book a spot here well in advance via the Reserve America website).
Location: Harmony Headlands State Park, 4500 Cabrillo Highway (Highway One), San Luis Obispo County, CA.
Morro Bay, Cayucos & Harmony
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