California Sea Otter Game Refuge

Trail
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Carmel
Monterey
More Info

When driving along Highway 1 on the California Pacific coast one will often encounter picturesque spots along the way that beg to be explored. Some stops even include trails leading from the road towards a bluff or even down to a beach on the ocean shore. It's not always clear who's responsible for the land on which the trail sits.

After hiking these trails and doing some research, it appears the winner is the California Sea Otter Game Refuge. Good luck finding a clear map of the land that consists of this park. Most of it lies offshore and is designed to protect sea otters, naturally enough.

Spotting sea otters is not always easy. When in the water their wet fur often takes on a hue similar to the kelp infused waters just off the coast. The distinctive high pitched call of otter pups and the sound of crustaceans being banged against rocks often provide the first clue that one or more are in the area.

The trails tend to follow bluffs that overlook the beaches below. Where possible stairs descend down to the beach level. There's no tree cover here, just a think carpet of low shrubs. Lizards scurry about under foot ducking into the foliage for cover. We encountered so many lizards that we turned their appearance into a game to see how close we could get perhaps touch them before they darted off trail.