Monday, October 7, 2013

Spooner's Cove - California Central Coast

A couple of weeks ago we spent some time on the central California coast. One day we were looking for a place called Los Osos Oaks (The Bears Oaks) to do some hiking. As sometimes happens, the trail-head wasn't where our GPS said it was supposed to be. So we kept driving.

Instead of what we were looking for, we saw this. We both love the ocean, so we quickly forgot about our hike through the forest.

This photo was taken in front of the white building in the left side of the above photo.  Apparently, we had entered Montana de Oro (Mountain of Gold) State Park without knowing it. I'd heard of the place, but knew nothing about it. Anyway, this old wooden building (now a little museum) was once the ranch house for the 7,000 acre Spooner Ranch. This photo also shows the north side of Spooner's Cove. There is a lot of other history associated with this place, but I think this is enough for now.

Here is the southern side of Spooner's Cove.

This is the right side of the cove again. A lady working in the ranch house told me that there was a major archaeology dig on top of the hill. I saw a trail going up that way and knew we'd be checking it out. The lady then said that there was nothing left up there. Too bad! We settled for sniffing out some sea glass on the beach.

A nice little natural arch.

I'm sure that dog was supposed to be on a leash, or maybe not there at all. Still, it made for a nice photo.

You can see the ranch house on the very left hand side of the photo. That sharp point jutting out into the cove (on the left), is the end of the south side of Spooner's Cove (from the third photo).  The ranch (and now the park) has over six miles of ocean front. Most of it consisting of beautiful and rugged coves.

The scene in the last photo, was directly behind me.  This is the foundation of a storage building that was used to store crops, lumber and sheep products over a hundred years ago.

before being dropped in this gravity chute, which ended at a freight loading area for...

The ships that would dock at the edge of this rocky outcropping.

I was only being stupid here to show you how steep and far down it was to the ships. The actual trail is about 10 yards behind me.

A photo of the cove from way back in the day.
I'll shut up for a while now.

We found a way down into this one.

Each of these layers was the sea floor at some time in the distant past.

For those who have heard of it, that is Morro Rock in the distance (in front of the mountains)

This part of the trail is roped off, but that doesn't stop some people! Like my wife...

If you are ever in this area, I strongly advise you to come and see this place. There are also many great hiking trails in the area.



  1. This place is so cool! I wonder about the people who owned the ranch. How awesome their lives must have been.

  2. What a terrific find, when you all were looking for something totally different. Already, my mind was imagining what it would have been like to live there when it was a working ranch. Stay away from those cliffs!!!

  3. That is an awesome looking place and so are your captures for the day, Pat! Such blue water and incredible rock formations! Great to discover a place like this and only have to share it with a dog visitor!! Hope you have a wonderful week!

  4. I love the sculptural quality of those trees! Thanks for the field trip! I'm determined to get out and explore soon!

    You are my travel hero!

  5. Heck with the hiking - you found something much better instead! Amazing photos. Glad you didn't go over the cliff trying to get that shot.

  6. Love every one of these photos. The central coast is one of my favorite spots on earth. Never been to Spooner's Cove, but have hiked around the general area many times over the years. Fantastic place to explore.

  7. Seriously Though - I agree with you! Apparently, they developed some inventive ways of doing things there. Like built a paddle wheel boat powered by mules to get around.

    Shelly - Oh yeah! Imagine sitting in your front yard and seeing that cove everyday. However, based on how few windows (and how small they were, I'm thinking that the view wasn't such a big thing to them.

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! I guess we were there on a calm day, usually the sea is much rougher.

    Jenny - Thanks Jenny! I hope you can hit the road soon.

    Alex - I'm with you! We did walk down the cliffs for a couple of miles, so we did get some exercise anyway.

    Robin - Thanks Robin! I love it also. There is so many great hiking trails there.

  8. I seriously dig the tree by the park bench. Gnarled and wicked.

    That picture of you sticking your foot out though... Eesh, i am not a friend of heights. I would not have it in me to get that close to the edge.

  9. love the rough terrain against the pretty blue waters.

  10. I'm in awe of that coastline, thank you for not finding your destination!

    I'm pondering that steep ramp down to the water, it difficult to imagine it's not natural, but how on earth did it get there?

  11. Now that's my kind of State Park!!! I've been in the area many times but not there!!! One of these days!!!

  12. TS Hendrik - It was a great spot Tim. I'd like to sit there for a while. I'm not really a friend of heights either. My wife on the other hand, has zero fear of them.

    TexWisGirl - Me too! Rugged, yet intricate and beautiful.

    Wayne - My pleasure! Loved this place. They actually dug and lined the ramp. It didn't go all the way down, but to a another man made ramp and then to the ship. I found a photo of the the whole thing when it was in place, but can't find it. I'm still looking though.

  13. Now I want to go there. What a beautiful and peaceful place.

  14. Michelle in the state of WAOctober 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Simply gorgeous pictures of a great seascape!!! And a beautiful day too boot!! I might have to journey up to that area when I am down in Calif again. Thanks again for sharing your adventures!! And all the knowledge you seem to put with them!! Take care my friend!!

  15. Hey Patrick, you sure do travel a lot. Good for you! Awesome scenery. And stay away from those edges. I'm getting dizzy just looking at it.

  16. Interesting and great photos! A wonderful place!

  17. Those are amazing photos Pat and I love the name of that place. Did you take the fork in the road to get to Spooners Cove?

  18. Oh my gosh it's breathtaking ... you guys really have good karma, the way you stumble on these wonders no matter where you are. I had never heard of this beautiful spot.

  19. The scenery is just glorious!

  20. The Chieftess - I'm right there with you! To get there, you have to either know it's there or your lost like us. I know I'm going back!

    M Pax - Just go to the coast and turn left. Then go straight for a loooong time and you'll be right there!

    Michelle - Everything was perfect that day. You are most welcome and it's a pleasure. You take care also Michelle.

    Stephen Tremp - Hey there! We try to spend two weeks at home and then leave again. I try to stay away, but I'm kind of drawn to the edge.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! It sure is.

    Brian - Thanks Brian! I think we missed the fork and went all the way to the end of the road. Either way, it was the one less traveled for sure.

    Sallie - It sure was! We do have some good karma on finding things. Maybe it's because we think getting lost is a good thing. I've never heard of this place either and I'm in that area on a fairly regular basis. There is just so much to see there.

    ladyfi - It really is glorious! Hundreds of miles of coastline similar to this on our west coast.

  21. this is great - now that the government has locked down everything, it seems that my fall vacation is zilch. I so wanted to go to some place like this. I even found my campsite book - I thought I had thrown it out. Heavy sigh

  22. It might not have been where you were headed, but it sure ended up being a nice place to be!

  23. Pasadena Adjacent - Just the federal places are closed. There are still a ton of state and county campgrounds all over the place. We are headed to the Joshua Tree National Park area for two weeks on Monday. I'll be unhappy (unhappier, that is) if this all isn't over by then. Bastards!

    Ms. A - You are very right about that! I can't wait to get back there.

  24. wow I'm delighted by these pictures.The cliffs, the adorable color of the water, the sunlight is just perfect and I love the texture of the stones as amazing scenery!
    Thanks for sharing these lights, your posts always bring good energies to my day here!

  25. What a great place - never trust your GPS!

    We spent a lot of time down by the sea last week.

    Lying face down in the dirt to get a picture is just a normal part of a day as far as I am concerned!

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  26. Well you did stumble on something special here Pat.. Just being by the coast is fabulous as far as I'm concerned . I'm not sure why, maybe too many adventure stories when I was a youngster, but just the word 'cove ' conjures up all sorts of things... Smuggling etc :)

  27. Great photos.

    Reading your blog, one gets the sense that you spend pretty much all your time roaming whereever your heart takes you. Is this how it really is?

    If so, I aspire to your lifestyle.

  28. I love California! It always amazes me that a place with so many people and cars still has remote areas like this.

  29. Cezar and Leia - It is a beautiful place for all those reasons. Thanks so much for all the nice words.

    Stewart - I agree about the GPS. It was a great trip. In a couple of days, we're headed for the desert for two weeks. it's starting to cool off a bit.

    PerthDailyPhoto - I agree with you about the ocean and that is exactly why we live where we do. I'm also really drawn to the desert also.

    The Geezers - Thanks! That is pretty much how it really is with us. We're either gone, thinking about it, or getting ready to do it. The thing that keeps us from doing it full time, is that we are lucky enough to live in in a beautiful area with some of the best overall weather in the world.

    Karen Jones Gowen - Hi Karen! I love it also. Many people don't know that most of those people and cars are concentrated in just a few areas.

  30. It's so gorgeous there and I'm so glad it now belongs to the public so that everyone can enjoy the views not just some very rich landowner.

  31. Oh, you're giving me a great idea for a trip! Absolutely gorgeous!Close to which town/city is this?

    You asked about the campground at Quail Creek lake. At the lake is camping, and it's higher than the lake - there's a dam at the end of the lake, so water levels are controlled. We went to a camping site around the corner, close to the highway, because we're members of Coast to Coast - an RV assoc.

  32. wrong roads sometimes take you to the right places :) Beautiful pictures of the ocean, Pat. I've never been to or seen an ocean since I live in the middle of the continental Europe :(

  33. Seriously Pat, this place is stunning. Finding it by accident makes it all the more appealing, doesn't it? The one regret in my travels across country was not hitting California. Maybe someday I'll get out there. Meanwhile, I'll just keep enjoying your pictures.

  34. EG Camera Girl - It is so gorgeous! One of these days I'll do another post with some of the history of the place. there is a lot of it...

    Jesh St Germain - That is great! I hope you do go. The official address is 3550 Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos.

    I guess I didn't describe the campground well enough. The one around the corner (where you stayed) is the one I was talking about. It's in Hurricane right? We are also members of Coast to Coast and that is where we stay. The lake, when it is more full, goes all the way to the RV park. the "lake" part of it is behind the clubhouse. I don't think there is water in it usually.

    DEZMOND - You are so right! It is a beautiful place. Thanks so much! I hope you see the ocean sometime.

  35. Bouncin Barb - It sure is stunning! I'm so sorry that you missed California. There is some of just about everything here. Thanks so much! Nice to see your comment and that you are blogging again.

  36. Your photos are proof positive that nothing beats the rugged, unspoiled beauty of the California coast. The state should be commended for setting aside so much land for public enjoyment of it's sheer and unique beauty. Gorgeous post that is testament to the great importance of preserving our cherished public lands.

  37. That does look like an interesting place...

  38. It would have been a beautiful and dramatic and dangerous place to live. Speaking of dangerous - living, as I do, on a coastline where there have been lots of landslips over the winter . . .

  39. I love that natural arch. Your wife and I are two of a kind, ropes, gates, fences do not hold us back. :)

  40. I love that natural arch. Your wife and I are two of a kind, ropes, gates, fences do not hold us back. :)

  41. I think the tennis shoe on the cliff is the Pat Tillett signature. Whatever trail head you missed couldn't beat this.

  42. Stickup Artist - I totally agree with you about both things. It makes me happy that the state (for the most part) isn't very interested in allowing development in these places. Thanks so much!

    Sage - I was so happy to see it and can't wait to go back. Next time we're going to climb a couple of those front-side little mountains to see what the coast looks like from up there.

    Lucy - Hi there! I'm sure you are so right about the danger. I also live in an area with landslides (as we call them here).

    Rosemary - I also loved the arch. I'm so happy that my wife is pretty daring. If she wasn't, we would't be able to do some of the things I like.

    altadenahiker - I think you are right about the shoes, but I would never do that with tennis shoes on. Too slick on the bottom! Those are actually really good low-top hiking shoes. You are right about the trails we missed. I think I'd rather go back to this places a couple more times before I even think about them.

  43. That dog fits perfectly and is almost camouflaged in - same colors as the rock. I don't know how you find so many amazing sights in CA that I've never seen before. This is another one. Thanks, Pat.

    Be well.

  44. Pat, that is some amazing photography. I would say a target rich environment for a camera buff!

    Easily could spend all day clicking the shutter and just enjoying the views.

    Your wife has the pioneer spirit!

  45. Rawknrobyn - He was also a nice pooch. In this case, blind luck led us to this place. When my wife and I are out somewhere. We always say to each other, "I wonder what is up that little road?" Or dirt road, or back road, etc. Mostly though, I hunt for things on the internet and I ask local people about off the beaten path things in the area. You are welcome and thanks to you!

    Carol - Thanks so much Carol!

    Chuck - Thanks Chuck! VERY target rich. We will be back up there before the year is over!

  46. Oh your photos of this beautiful place are just excellent! So many pretty shots!

  47. What an amazingly beautiful area. I also love the seaside and sometimes wish I lived near it.

  48. What a great place! We're just up at Morro Strand State beach. I wish we had the time to go over there but we're leaving in the morning.

  49. Rajesh - Thanks Rajesh! They sure weer.

    Icy BC - Thank you! I took a ton of photos that day. It was hard to stop.

    Al - I totally agree! We live about 250 miles down the coast from this spot. It's nice, but THIS place is overwhelmingly beautiful.

    Tracey - Hi there! It sure is a great place. It's too bad you don't have a little more time. This place is only about 5(ish) miles from you. Where are you head now?

  50. You and your wife always seem to find the coolest places to explore.. I've been tagging along on many of these explorations for years now.. so much fun to see (and read your captions)where your camera ens up..

    PS- love the dog shot.. that is what i call "perfect timing"

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  52. sixdegreesphotography - Thanks Lynne! I really appreciate that and have enjoyed your travels and life changes as well. We are in a great place for the next two weeks and I hope I take advantage with some good photos.

    hamad - You are a whore!

  53. Amazing shots Pat. Looks like a wonderful spot then and now.
    Stay away from that edge bro!

  54. What a beautiful corner of the world!! I love it!! I will definitely have to go. And of course I'll have to take Hubby cause the name makes that appropriate. ;)

  55. You live in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

  56. Gorgeous photos. What layers of history these suggest. Where exactly is Spooner Ranch and Morro Rock? I have a friend who lives in Morro Bay. Are these photos anywhere near that?
    I love how blue the waters are and how ancient the rocks look. Great share!

  57. Anthony - Thanks Anthony! It is a great spot.

    Baby Sister - It sure is! I hope you guys do make it out here.

    Kato - Thank you so much Kato! I agree with you.

    Elizabeth Varadan - Morro Rock is in Morro Bay. If you are anywhere near the town, you absolutely can't miss it. It dominates the landscape. Spooner's Cove is in Montana de Oro State Park and is about 15 miles south of Morro Bay.
    They are both great places.
    Thanks so much for commenting on my post. Come back anytime!

  58. So, I used to live in Osos (as the locals call it), and I used to have my lunch everyday at the entrance to the park, overlooking the dunes and the view to Morro Bay in the distance. Spooner's is such a nice little spot in MdO, and I miss it dearly. I'm actually going to school in Montana to be a Ranger at that park!
    The Oaks trail that you were looking for, though, isn't really close to Montana de Oro, as I'm sure you figured out... But if you're going to be back in that area sometime soon, and you want to do walk that trail (it's really more of a walk, and not a hike)..... If you're in San Luis, travel on Los Osos Valley Road toward Los Osos, and after passing the cemetary on the right (once you're close to Osos), the road will take a dip, and the trail/parking lot for the Oaks trail will be on your left. If you reach South Bay Blvd., you've gone too far. Another good trail to do, if you like to HIKE, is Broderson. For that one, keep heading down Los Osos Valley Road, toward Montana de Oro, and make a left on Broderson Ave. Keep going until it dead-ends into the trail. The trail takes you through the relic dunes and up a mountain, so you have panoramic views of the central coast. It's really worth all the effort for the views you get!
    Happy travels!

  59. Megancostello - Thanks so much for your comment Megan. Also for the tips! I just looked up Broderson and that sounds like somewhere I'd really like to go. If you look around here, you will see why. thanks again!


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