CENTRAL COAST DOG WALKS
Asilomar Coastal Trail
by CeliaSue Hecht
Nothing beats walking your dog along the Asilomar Coastal Trail along Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove. “Asilomar” is Spanish for "a refuge by the sea." Once you have walked this coastal trail, you will know how fitting the name is.
Breathe in the fresh ocean breezes, enjoy the sight of the waves lapping the craggy rocks, and hear the pounding surf, while your dog walks alongside the narrow trail beside you. This hike is easily accessible from Pacific Grove. There is a bright yellow “Asilomar State Park” sign at the trailhead. The trail is a mile long and ends at Asilomar State Beach.
To the right, the trail turns into a wooden boardwalk with a bridge that takes you to a rustic wooden gazebo and overlook. To the left is a decomposed granite trail that follows the rocky coastline taking you past tidepools, sandy dunes, native plants, small coves, and several small beaches that are especially nice during low tide.
Dogs are to be on leash but will enjoy exploring every inch of the trail with their noses. They love smelling the fragrant beach sagewort and other native beach plants.
Depending upon the time of day, you may see a lot of people or only a few. You can take your time and enjoy a casual stroll or pick up the pace for a fast, vigorous hike. On one visit, we contemplated the roaring waves leaping and crashing over rocks, and saw seagulls, pelicans and other seabirds. If you are lucky, you may also spot deer grazing along the trail or sea otters foraging along the coast.
We made our way towards the end of Asilomar Beach, where we watched surfers riding the waves. Here, the vast expanse of wet sand truly beckons dogs. Dogs must be leashed while on the state beach, but just beyond the border, about 100 yards from the road, is the start of Spanish Bay Beach where dogs can romp off leash, play fetch the frisbee or ball, swim in the shallow surf, or dig in the sand. Canine heaven.
This is a fairly moderate, flat hike. At times, the trail ascends up and curves around. There are no restrooms or water available, so be prepared. Tthere is a dispenser of 'Mutt Mitts' for your convenience. If you plan to visit in the afternoon or early evening as the weather cools off, you might want to bring a sweater.
Getting there: Take Del Monte Avenue from Monterey through the tunnel into Pacific Grove. Now you are on Lighthouse Avenue. Continue on Lighthouse, past the Shell Gas Station until the street dead-ends at the Point Pinos Lighthouse and the golf course. Here, you might see deer chomping on the grass. Take a left onto Asilomar Avenue and the second right onto Jewell Avenue. Jewell Avenue takes you to Sunset Drive, which goes along the ocean. Take a left onto Sunset. About 50 feet down is where the coastal hiking trail begins. You can park anywhere along Sunset Drive. There is no parking here from midnight to 5 a.m.
CeliaSue Hecht is a published freelance writer. Her work has been featured in more than 40 publications. She has a dog travel blog called Have Dog Blog Will Travel and assists business owners in getting published. http://about.me/writerink/bio