13 Jul 2014
California coastal peregrinations
|Illustration by Edward Rooks
If you’ve ever driven from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco, you’re missing out on the real view, says Margaret Leonard ’76, J.D. ’79. To truly experience the beauty of the natural coastline, she recommends walking those 44 miles—along the windy bluff trails dotted with wildflowers, through the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and past the Montara lighthouse, exploring beaches and tide pools, then along the mountain trail toward Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, and on paths with scenic ocean views that lead, eventually, to the Golden Gate Bridge.
An avid hiker (Leonard has hiked the Inca Trail in Peru and the Annapurna Sanctuary trek in Nepal, among other notable places), the Santa Cruz native traces another favorite route, along the entire coastline of Monterey Bay. Starting near the Santa Cruz Wharf and hiking across state parks, beaches, and wildlife refuges down the coast to Monterey, you might see sanderlings and marbled godwits wading in the surf on the beach, or Caspian terns diving for fish, or perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of a whale breaching the water’s surface or a pod of dolphins in the distance. Hear the chatter of the birds, the crash of waves.
The Monterey Bay route is one that Leonard first walked herself more than 15 years ago. “After I retired I thought, Oh, I could get other people to do that walk. It’s so interesting,” she says. So in 2010, she launched Slow Adventure, arranging self-guided, inn-to-inn walking tours along the Northern California coast. The 40- to 50-mile walks are spread out over five days, encouraging walkers to move at their own pace, to savor and enjoy.