Midsummer Road Trip Time 

The El Moro Elfin Forest is home to an ancient oak grove of trees that grow only 4 to 20 feet tall. Photo El Moro Elfin Forest.
The El Moro Elfin Forest is home to an ancient oak grove of trees that grow only 4 to 20 feet tall. Photo El Moro Elfin Forest.

By Michele E. Buttelman 

Signal Staff Writer 

It’s hot. No, it’s really hot. It’s that time of year in the Santa Clarita Valley when everyone seems to either be in the pool, at the coast or flying away on vacation. If the lure of the open road catches your fancy, there is nothing quite as idyllic and magical as a California summer road trip. 

Where to go? Perhaps one of these “off-the-beaten-path” destinations will scratch that “road trip itch.”  

Iconic Field of Lights at Sensorio 

172 miles 

Bruce Munro: Light at Sensorio, 4380 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles 93446 

Info sensoriopaso.com 

Sensorio was created by Paso Robles locals Ken and Bobbi Hunter as a destination for entertainment, exploration, meditation, adventure and delight, honoring the natural topography of the landscape and intended to offer a wide range of amusing, mystical and kinetic experiences. They commissioned internationally acclaimed British artist Bruce Munro to create a sensory experience that goes beyond visual artistry to offer visitors a walkthrough kinetic adventure. 

Bruce Munro: Light at Sensorio is an immersive walkthrough outdoor exhibit. Two new installations have recently been added to the exhibit. Munro: Fireflies is a whimsical work made up of some 10,000 flickering points of light.  Gone Fishing is a playful representation of the contemplative act of standing by a stream.  

These exhibits complement the current Munro exhibit Field of Light and Light Towers. 

The Central California destination was launched in May 2019 with Field of Light. The Light Towers were added in 2021. The two newest exhibits were unveiled on May 19.  

A new inaugural special event will be held on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Sensorio. This event offers guests a unique look at Sensorio as the sun rises in the east painting the sky with the colors of the dawn. The exhibit will be open from 4:30- 7:30 a.m. with coffee and pastries provided. Sunrise tickets are $22-$40. 

While in Paso enjoy the delights of wine country with more than 250 wineries across seven growing regions.  

El Moro Elfin Forest Los Osos 

179 miles 

North end of 11th Street to 17th Street, Baywood-Los Osos 93402 

Info www.elfin-forest.org 

You may have been to Morro Bay, but have you been to Baywood-Los Osos? Offering breathtaking sunsets and year-round beauty Los Osos is a perfect road trip destination. 

Once you arrive you can ride horses on the beach, kayak in the bay or relax on a sprawling green golf course. 

One of the rare jewels of California is the majestic Montaña de Oro State Park on 3550 Pecho Valley Road. It is a geologist and naturalist’s playground. 

Montaña de Oro is defined by its rugged cliffs, tucked-away sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons and hills, with spectacular scenery produced through millions of years of volcanic activity, plate tectonics and erosion.  

This 8,000-acre state park is one of California’s largest. From eucalyptus groves to wildflowers, tidepools to towering dune mountains, Montaña de Oro always offers more to discover. Hike one of multiple trails here, like the serene Bluff Trail that takes in the coastline, or the challenging Valencia Peak trail, which summits at 1,347 feet. 

Explore the tidepools along the shore that are rich with marine life. 

Your ultimate destination is an ancient oak grove called  the Elfin Forest, which  is home to trees that grow only 4 to 20 feet tall.  

The 90-acre natural area belonging to San Luis Obispo County Parks and California State Parks offers plant communities that include coastal brackish marsh, riparian woodland fringe, pygmy oak woodland, maritime chaparral, coastal dune scrub and an oak and manzanita complex.  

The El Moro Elfin Forest supports more than 200 species of plants, 110 kinds of birds, 22 species of mammals and 13 species of reptiles and amphibians. It is home to rare plants, butterflies, snails and birds. Chumash middens occur throughout the park. 

Docent-led nature walks focusing on different topics are held monthly. The walks usually begin at 9:30 a.m. and last 1-1.5 hours. 

Redwood Park in Arcada. Photo credit Rick Saria
Redwood Park in Arcada. Photo credit Rick Saria

Redwood Country Arcata 

622 miles 

Arcata’s Community Forest, 14th and Union Street, Arcata 95521 

Info www.cityofarcata.org/197/Trail-Maps 

This trip will take you to the far north of California. Arcata, located in Humboldt County, is adjacent to Arcata Bay and home to Humboldt State University. 

A former logging town, Arcata survived to become one of California’s most charming towns, however it’s rarely on anyone’s list of “must see” places. 

One of the big attractions of Arcata is its proximity to the Redwoods National Forest. With the bay to one side featuring spectacular Pacific Ocean views and the majestic redwoods to the other, the town is surrounded both by ocean and forest.  

Explore the coastline or hike through the trails winding among the redwoods. Once back in town, have a coffee in the plaza, the heart of Arcata. Enjoy the green grass and restored historic buildings, like the Pythian Castle, or hit the beach. 

Arcata’s Community Forest at 14th and Union Street, is a redwood forest just blocks from downtown Arcata. With approximately 790 acres of woodland recreation and an exceptional network of developed trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding the forest offers a number of bridges, stairways and corduroy roads that allow the trails to cross steep ravines and traverse forested hillsides.

Enjoy the wildlife on the trail around Klopp Lake near Arcada. Photo credit Rick Saria
Enjoy the wildlife on the trail around Klopp Lake near Arcada. Photo credit Rick Saria

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