Many State and County Parks await visitors to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and Jane Mauss, the weekend housekeeper at the hostel, is a great resource for outdoor explorers. Born and raised on the San Francisco peninsula, she's made Pescadero her home for over two decades. Jane is pictured here riding her beloved donkey, Johnny Appleseed, who also knows the trails and beaches of Pescadero well. If you don't spot him on the trails near the lighthouse, look for him on stage! He'll be "performing" this spring in the San Francisco Ballet's production of Don Quixote.
Midway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz stands a landmark like no other. You can catch a glimpse of it as you travel from the north or south, on Highway 1, along the San Mateo coast.
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Nestled beneath the tall tower is our own Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel. Here weary travelers, from here and abroad, find respite and a springboard to experience the wonders that make our area so special.
Ano Nuevo State Park is 6.5 miles south of the hostel. Best known as the mainland rookery for the Northern Elephant Seal, there is a flurry of activity from December to March as the huge animals haul out to breed. Docent-guided tours take groups out on a boardwalk trail that is friendly to strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs. To my surprise, this park has expanded so much that it interconnects with Butano State Park and the San Mateo County Park system. These in turn connect to Portola State Park, and beyond. Backpackers could literally hike for two weeks or more in all the interconnected parks.
Big Basin State Park is also connected into this "Super Park" system. Big Basin is a flagship of the California State Park system and offers bikers, hikers, and horse riders mile upon mile of pleasure. The coastal entrance to the park is not quite 10 miles south of the hostel. Here there is a nature center, trailheads, and the fabulous beach. The beach is a huge attraction to all manner of beach goers, surfers, sailboarders, and kite surfers.
Wilder Ranch State Park is 23 miles south of the hostel. This restored and working ranch offers visitors a glimpse into farm life before the age of machinery, and costumed volunteers provide interpretations of the displays which include rare-breed livestock. This park is also huge, and hikers, bikers, and horse riders are welcome to enjoy the stunning views of our thriving coastal cropland.
Oh, yes! I almost forgot...
Just step outside the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel and you are there! The Mighty Tower (115 feet) stands over one of the finest ocean views short of living in a cliffside house. Stand out on the observation deck and, with patience and an open eye, you are sure to see a whale blow! Closer in, dolphins frequently frolic in the breakers. Harbor seals abound here and bask on the rocks below. Even sea otters come by regularly. While not a huge park our beaches are lovely and the south beach is sheltered. The beach to our north is amazing at low tide. The tide pools there are so fun for families to explore.
This story is part of a series asking hostel staff to share their insider tips and recommendations with travelers. Last time, Mei shared her favorite San Francisco eats and treats. Before that, Jessica shared her top places to work up a sweat in SF.