South Plateau Trail
Between the entrance station and the Bird Island Trail above Gibson Beach. Through pine and live oak woodland: 0.7 mile. Accessibility: Not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. This trail is somewhat hilly and has uneven surfaces. Those with limited mobility wanting a walk to the southern end of the Reserve may prefer the Mound Meadow Trail.
This is the most direct way for walk-ins to get to the south end of the Reserve, though its proximity to Highway 1 does expose the visitor to some traffic noise in places. The trail winds through Monterey Pine forest. There are scattered coast live oaks. Look for their soft, light-green new foliage in spring (see left), and later, the acorns which were a staple food of the local native peoples.
There are many birds, but they are usually high overhead, and are more often identified by their distinctive sounds than by sight. You may hear - or see - brown creepers, downy woodpeckers, Steller's jays. If you walk these woods at dusk, perhaps you will hear a great-horned or other owl.
Plant life abounds. Look for flowering currants, wild honeysuckle, and coffeeberry. The elegant Douglas Iris graces these woods in spring - get down close, and examine the delicately patterned petals.