Nacimiento Road – Ventana Wilderness Big Sur – Eco Guide to California Central Coast

The road on the western slope is not for the feint of heart.

 Connecting Salinas Valley and Big Sur is a little known road of about one hour’s drive through a stimulating swatch of San Antonio Valley, Los Padres National Forest and Ventana Wilderness.

Valley of the Oaks – as San Antonio Valley was called by the earliest Spaniards – is set deep into the Sierra Santa Lucia

On the Ft. Hunter Liggett military reservation, near the San Antonio de Padua Mission, a good and lonely road heads west. During hunting season there will be a dozen or so vehicles, most of them parked along the road. Other times only a handful of cars will be seen. Some are near trail heads, parked, waiting for their hikers to return.

But, the views are among the best of all Big Sur / Ventana

There are some spectacular trails accessed by this road. Among these are the Santa Lucia and Junipero Serra Peak (which is called Pemkolam by Ventana Wilderness enthusiasts, and the Salinan Indians who named the peak) trails, moderate walks through lovely little Alpine like valleys that were settings for Salinan Indian villages. It is a relatively wet area, with bogs and several streams.
The Navy intended to establish a jet fighter bombing range here: Details

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After 15 miles you cross a bridge over a deep woodsy stream, and begin a windy ascent to the Santa Lucia Mountain Range crest.

Nacimiento ranger station after three miles, is the only structure on the route.

A quarter of a mile farther brings you to the unpaved Coast Ridge Road. To the north it becomes Cone Peak Road, and pursues the lofty landmark. To the south, Coast Ridge Road laboriously winds its way through canyons and along ridges to the southern reaches of Big Sur.

First sighting of the Pacific is from the road, looking over Mill Creek Canyon. Up the south slopes grow Redwoods and Cedars. The north slopes get much more sun, less precipitation from fog, and are swabbed in grasses and wildflowers.

A redwood canyon immerses on the north side to accommodate Kirk Creek. The two pristine creeks are part of a vast watershed system on the Pacific side.

View from Nacimiento Road.

Fog streams into the Mill Creek Canyon and feeds the hardwood forests.

Coastal EcoTraveler and his Dog

Rincon and his dog, Nashua, travel Nacimiento Road in an unusual way. For his story, and a bigger photo, go to What’s This Like?

Reserve a Big Sur Lodge cottage at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park online with Pelican Network.

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First People of the Pajaro

Beautifully told history of the Monterey Bay natives by Lois Robin – a CD

The Butterfly Center at Santa Cruz Park Friends. Books from the online Park Store. See the Monarch Miracle in the Natural Bridges Sanctuary.

Or, at the Monarch Sanctuary in Pacific Grove

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The Sea to Jolon Classic tale from California Coast Trails by J. Smearton Chase is published in the Ventana Wilderness Alliance website.

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Nacimiento Road offers glimpses to the magic of the Santa Lucia Coastal Range. Our Lord’s Candle, a yucca from the Northern Mexican deserts found a home along the western slopes. The Nacimiento North Fork (right) after the ’99 fire, explodes with Lupines.

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