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Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State Park, just south of the town of Morro Bay, stretches eastward from the shoreline into the coastal hills. Within its more than 2,700 acres are the Morro Estuary Natural Preserve—an 800-acre wetland—a heron rookery, and a museum of natural history, as well as a golf course, marina and accessible restaurant, campground with accessible sites, and picnic area. A trail by the marina is moderately accessible.

The heron rookery is located along State Parks Road just inside the park’s northwest entrance. From the parking area, a dirt path leads about 100 feet to a spot where, from February to June, you can see nesting great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, and egrets.

Visitor center: Situated atop a hill at water’s edge, with dramatic views of the Morro Bay Estuary and Morro Rock to the north, the Natural History Museum has hands-on exhibits about the estuary and bay ecosystems, tidal forces, geology, erosion, and how to preserve and protect the environment. Free lectures on the park’s natural history are in the auditorium every Monday, 10:15 am to noon, January through March. Next to the museum is a Chumash Indian garden, where you can learn how the Chumash used native plants.

State Parks Advisory: Many of California's state parks are reducing hours of operation and limiting access to facilities because of budget cuts. We recommend that you consult State Parks' website and contact the park directly before planning a visit.

Trail/Pathway Details

Marina Trail

Trailhead: Southwest end of the marina parking lot

Length: Under one mile total

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Mostly level, but erosion in some places makes for a little rough riding

Terrain: Firm

May be muddy in wet weather


This trail loops around a strip of land across the inlet from the marina, but is only accessible along the inlet side of the loop. At the first junction, follow the trail to the right as it parallels the shoreline opposite the marina. Mostly coastal scrub grows here, and shorebirds are plentiful. The turnaround point is a large Monterey pine where the trail becomes too sandy to continue. This spot is perfect for lingering in the shade while admiring the view of Morro Rock, a nearly 600-foot-high volcanic outcrop in the shallow waters of the bay. The towering stacks of nearby Morro Bay Power Plant compete for your attention. On the return trip, several other morros, referred to locally as the Nine Sisters, are visible to the south and east.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Accessible Parking: Yes

At the museum, campground, and marina. For the rookery, on State Park Road look for a stand of eucalyptus trees and a small pullout with a hard-packed dirt and gravel surface. There is no striping, but when it's not full, there is room to lower a lift.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

At Natural History Museum

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

At the day-use area in the campground. One table off the museum parking lot may be accessible if you can navigate the approach, which is across hard-packed dirt but has a steep cross-slope.

Other Things of Interest

The Kayak Shack rents kayaks at the marina: (805) 772-8796.
View of one of the Nine Sisters, or Morros
View of one of the Nine Sisters, or Morros (Jean Morrison)

Features icon key

  • boating
  • camping
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: California State Parks
Address: Morro Bay State Park Rd.
Phone: (805) 772-2560; museum (805) 772-2694
Reservations: (800) 444-7275
Hours: Park: 6 am-11 pm
Museum: 10 am-5 pm; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Fees: Museum
Dogs: On leash
Not allowed on beach or trails
Public Transportation: SLO Regional Transit 
Useful Links: Museum of Natural History
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, April 28, 2008
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing