If it has been a while since you have visited Morro Bay, you may not know of the newly constructed boardwalk by the marina. It was built during the summer of 2012 and is the perfect spot for viewing the life and rhythms of the backbay estuary.
Short of kayaking the estuary during a high tide, this is the best way to get close to the tidal flats and view the wildlife.
The boardwalk is located, not surprisingly, on the south side of the marina, which is directly across the road from the Morro Bay State Park campgrounds. The road here changes name - coming from town it is called "Country Club Drive" and from the east side is called "State Park Road".
There are no other signs pointing the way to the trail and boardwalk. Just park at the end of the parking area and head for the decomposed granite pathway just south.
That path takes you to the boardwalk and you can follow it either east or west. It's not that long (less than a mile for sure) and has been well constructed with several turnouts. Wheelchairs will have no problem here.
Even though it was the middle of winter here in Central California, the day I visited was sunny and beautiful. It was also the day prior to the start of the Morro Bay Winter Birding Festival. There were a few birders out already checking their equipment and choosing locations.
This is a great spot for birding, from what I can tell. I'm no serious birder, but each year over 200 species of birds are viewed during the festival!
Morro Bay has a number of important designations: State and National Bird Sanctuary; State and National Estuary; State Wildlife Refuge; California Marine Reserve. Those titles just acknowledge the fact that the wildlife already knows - Morro Bay is a great haven for many species.
I happened to visit here in that lovely time near sunset and the light didn't disappoint. Always a great time for photos.
This hike, around the Morro Bay marina boardwalk, isn't in the following books (yet) but it is fairly new. Check out these excellent resources for your Central California visit...
Besides the Marina boardwalk, there are other ways to take in the natural wonders of the Morro Bay estuary. One of them is by visiting the El Moro Elfin Forest (also known as the Los Osos Elfin Forest). You can spot it in this photo at the left side just above the far reach of the estuary. (Click on the photo to view in a larger size).
If you are adventurous, you can kayak around the bay. The boardwalks will take you to the edge of the estuary, but kayaking puts you right in the middle of it.
During the winter, there are "King tides" which bring very high tides during the new moon. There had been these seasonal tides the week prior and it would have been interesting to see the estuary completely inundated.
From the boardwalk at various points, you can catch glimpses of Morro Rock, Black Hill and several other of the "Nine Sisters" which make up the chain of volcanic remnants from here to San Luis Obispo.
We'll end our Morro Bay marina boardwalk sidetrip here. Whether you are staying the weekend here or just visiting for a daytrip, this jaunt is well worth the effort.