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Asilomar State Beach

Asilomar Coast Trail

Asilomar State Beach, located on the southwest shores of Pacific Grove, packs a lot of interest into a mile of coastline: a restored dune ecosystem, rocky coves, a broad sand beach. Add a visit to the historic Asilomar Conference Grounds and you have a walk to remember.

Bordering the west side of the conference grounds are white sand dunes, vegetatively restored with native plants. A boardwalk provides close-up views of this living example of plant succession. Just inland from the water, "pioneer" species of sand verbena and beach sagewort have taken hold; these colonizers created soil conditions acceptable for larger plants such as tree lupine and coyote bush to thrive; ultimately Monterey pine will succeed.

The conference grounds at Asilomar (pronounced Ah-seel-o-mar), derived from the Spanish to suggest "refuge by the sea" was originally founded by the YWCA for use as a summer retreat in 1913. Architect Julia Morgan, who would later gain worldwide fame as the designer of Hearst Castle, was commissioned to plan the original buildings.

Asilomar Coast Trail extends a mile along the length of the state beach. From the trail, several side paths fork to tidepools and pocket beaches. Sea otters, sea lions, seals are sometimes seen from vantage points along the trail. In winter, scan the horizon for migrating California gray whales.

From the coast, walkers can follow the boardwalk across dunes to the Asilomar Conference Grounds, a national historic landmark set in the piney woods.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 1 between Carmel and Monterey, turn west on Highway 68 (which becomes Sunset Drive) and follow it to the beach. If you’re in the Cannery Row area, follow Ocean View Boulevard west and south along the coast.

You can begin this walk opposite Asilomar Conference Grounds or at the north end of Asilomar State Beach just south of the Sunset Drive-Jewell Avenue intersection.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.