Those looking to start 2020 with a little exercise and some natural history of the San Mateo County coastline are in luck.
On New Year’s Day, beginning at 10 a.m., California State Parks, in partnership with the Coastside State Parks Association, is offering free, two-hour, guided tours at three locations.
One option is Gray Whale Cove Trail. Hikers will meet at the beach parking lot. A docent will share the history of the land’s use and the World War II bunker at Devil’s Slide. Another alternative is the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch Park property. Along with the eucalyptus forests and wildlife sightings, hikers can learn about the state’s only known example of an English-style dairy barn. Burleigh H. Murray first settled on the property and created a dairy farm in 1857.
For those willing to go a little farther out of town, a tour will be offered of the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve. Hikers can meet at the central parking lot on Highway 1, a quarter-mile from Pescadero Creek Road. Visitors will learn about the diverse ecosystem of the 235-acre wetlands. With more than 200 species of birds recorded at the marsh, including great egrets, blue herons and double-crested cormorants, the preserve is a prime spot for birding and wildlife enthusiasts.
Email HMBParksVolunteer@parks.ca.gov or call (650) 726-8814 for questions and additional information. Hikers should bring water and binoculars, and wear layered clothing and hiking shoes.