With its dramatic coastline, forests, farmlands Monterey County encompasses some of the world’s most beautiful scenery and offers the visitor a range of comforts. One of them is Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, a seven-mile division of the Monterey Bay. It is one of the 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves, established as a pasture laboratories which was used for the major scientific research and estuarine learning. The reserve is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and operated by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and linked with non-profit organization as named Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Also located few miles drive from east of Moss Landing.
The Research Reserve Slough spreads out in a 1,700 acres area which is a beautiful land conserves with natural habitats. It is one of the relatively few coastal wetlands remaining in California. It offers visitors many walking trails and kayak tours through salt marshes and tidal flats. More than 400 species of invertebrates, 80 species of fish and 200 species of birds is a home to this wildlife, in total it includes salt marsh, mud flat, freshwater pond, oak woodland, and grassland habitats.
Most of the wetland habitats in the reserve is covered with salt marsh plants. Pickle-weed, Macroalgae, alkali heath, the succulent janmea, salt grass are some of the salt marsh plants which were mostly seen. Upper mudflats covered with dense mats of green algae. Much of the upper slough is covered with pickle-weed, coast live oak, mixed winter grasses, salt grasses and willow trees. Eel grass almost covered large areas around the mouth and inland of the slough area. Named a few Hemlock, thistle, harding grass, wild mustard and many other non-local species that are mostly grown. At the start point of the slough, the channels, mudflats and salt marshes there is a wide rich-species, abundant marine invertebrate and fauna inhabits are in extreme quantity. Several other marine species inhabit Elkhorn Slough, including seals, sea lions, sea otters and more. Shorebirds includes the western sandpiper, dowitchers, willet, least sandpiper, marbled godwit, American avocet, sanderling, black-bellied plover and long-billed curlew. Terrestrial mammals includes raccoons, opossums, striped skunk, red and gray fox, longtail weasel, brush rabbit, California ground squirrel and various other rodents. Some of the rare species also found here as the California brown pelican, Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, California least tern, southern sea otter and American peregrine falcon. Perches species includes Staghorn sculpin, English sole, starry flounder and several.
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed Monday and Tuesday.
For adults 16 and older: $4.12
Lands pass is available at $22.92
Admission is free to the Visitor Center and picnic areas.
The Preserve is home to 5 miles of hiking trails that meander through a variety of habitats. Only the short Overlook Trail is considered to be accessible that leads from the visitor center to an overlook with sweeping views. Other dirt and grassy trails, especially Parson’s Slough Overlook Trail is available as to motorized wheelchairs and manual chair riders. Elkhorn Slough Overlook Trail and Five Fingers Loop Trail are two most common trails of short way. It is a surprisingly beautiful hiking spot, with easy, largely flat trails that are perfect for an easy walk.
Directions: Take Highway 1 to Moss Landing. Turn east on Dolan Road. After 3.5 miles, turn left on Elkhorn Road. The Reserve gate will be on your left in 1.9 miles.
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