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previously climbed Wed, Feb 5, 2014|
So we packed our stuff back up and left the park, heading south and west to get us to King City. From there we took Jolon Road through the Hunter-Liggett military base, a pleasant backroad that takes its time getting to the coast. This was fine with us since we had no where to be in any sort of a hurry. We caught sight of a bald eagle flying overhead, which on its own almost made the trip worthwhile. As we continued west on Nacimiento Rd, it occurred to me that we could hike the Cone Peak Trail, a route I'd been on several times already, but would be nice to share with Jackie. If I recall correctly, its the closest 5,000ft+ peak to the Pacific Ocean anywhere in CA/OR/WA, and has some pretty cool views. What I'd forgotten was that the TH is six miles off the pavement along a dusty road, not particularly suited for the low-clearance of a Miata, but one it could manage with care. It wasn't until 11:40a that we reached the TH and were ready to head out. Though less than three miles from the coast, it was quite warm here. Shade would be our welcome friend, but there is very little of it after the first half mile or so.
The trail winds its way up the south side of the mountain in about two and quarter miles, taking us a little over an hour. There are fine views looking west and south to the Pacific Ocean and the rugged Big Sur coast, though a bit hazy today due to the marine layer. There was another party already at the lookout when we arrived around 12:45p, with a welcome breeze blowing and plenty of shade provided by the lookout's roof. The lookout was closed today (as it's been on my three previous visits), and whether it's ever open I have no idea. Someone had left a small pile of change near the closed door with a note that rambled on about how neat it would be if others contributed to the pile until it was something larger. Of course that only works until the amount of money is more than any single visitor is willing to pass on. I suspect it will last a few days at most.
There were 3-4 other parties on their way up as we were heading down, showing just how popular this peak is. A few of these parties had done it the hard way, starting from Highway 1 at the Mill Creek TH or another similar one. They had backpacks and were sweating pretty good - clearly earning the peak far more than Jackie and I. I didn't even carry a daypack, letting Jackie carry our water, and looked like I was out on a Sunday (or in this case, Saturday) stroll. We got back before 2p to call it a day, Jackie seeming to enjoy it a good deal. We headed back to Nacimiento Rd and then continued west to the coast highway, driving this south to Morro Bay where we had a late lunch and eventually on to Pismo Beach. We drove past Hearst Castle, the elepant seals, sleepy coastal towns and countless stunning coastal views along the way, sharing the popular highway with the hundreds of other drivers on a beautiful September Saturday. Quite a change from the Colorado mountains I had been recently immersed in, to be sure...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Cone Peak
This page last updated: Mon Sep 16 11:24:38 2019
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