Places to Go on MLK Day

Pinnacles National Park, Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Castle Rock State Park, Greyhound Rock, Manresa State Beach, hiking, biking, beaches

Jan. 19, 2014—Ah, the three-day weekend: a gift from the gods. What to do with a wide-open day free of any and all obligations (or football games)? Well, as it happens, we have a few suggestions.

1. Pinnacles National Park
It just turned 1 year old, it's just far enough away to qualify as a true getaway and admission is free on Monday, Jan. 20 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Drive down Highway 101 past Salinas to get to the West entrance and challenge yourself with the Juniper Canyon Loop, or take it easier with the Balconies Loop. Or drive a little farther (past Hollister) to get to the East entrance and take the Condor Trail to a picnic on the overlook.

2. Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Beat the heat with a redwood-shaded stroll or bike ride at Nisene Marks. An easy amble through the Old Growth Loop is always a good option, as is hopping on your bike at the Steel Bridge and pedaling 2.5 miles up the Aptos Fire Road to the Bottom of the Incline, where you can lock up the steeds and take the short half-mile hike up Aptos Creek Trail to the Loma Prieta Epicenter.

3. Castle Rock State Park
You have time today to drive up to Skyline, and Castle Rock won't let you down. See a waterfall and get the big views on the Ridge-Saratoga Gap Trail, plus pick out your favorite campsite for future adventures at Castle Rock Trail Camp.

4. Greyhound Rock County Park
You get a ton of privacy at this North Coast park with the bizarre (and climbable) rock formation just offshore. You can even sun your bits! It's a gorgeous 20-minute drive up from Santa Cruz, and on the way back you'll start getting peckish just about the time you reach Davenport's Whale City Cafe. Not a bad way to spend a national holiday.

5. Manresa State Beach
Oh, never mind. It's only the best beach in Santa Cruz County, so why would you bother going there? Why would you want to get a fresh-made sandwich at El Patio in tiny La Selva Beach and take it down to Manresa and find a spot far, far away from everyone but where you can see the entire bay? Really, it's a ridiculous notion. Forget we even mentioned it.


Field Notes

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