Whoever said the best things in life aren't free probably never hiked the Bluff Trail, which follows some of the most spectacular (and undeveloped) coastline in Central California.
The wide, flat pathway, open to hikers and mountain bikers, contours along shale and sediment bluffs above interesting rock formations and the big blue Pacific.
You'll pass hidden coves, sea caves, sandy beaches, interesting tidepools and crashing surf while sea otters and harbor seals bask in the sunshine on rocky reefs. When you're done hiking, head to the water's edge at Spooner's Cove, located just below the trailhead parking lot.
Best of all, admission, parking and even trail maps are free. Montana de Oro State Park is located 6 miles southwest of Morro Bay on Los Osos Valley Road.
Go to www.parks.ca.gov for details.
Originally published in The Fresno Bee and on fresnobee.com on March 15, 2006.