Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge

The 367-acre Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is a small refuge with a big impact. Originally established to protect several species, including the western snowy plover, California brown pelican, Smith's blue butterfly, and Monterey spineflower, the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge provides birders, hikers, photographers and hunters a natural area rich with wildlife.

Fishing is not allowed at Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge; however, the park does provide access to surf fishing on the beach just outside the boundaries of the refuge.

Birding and Wildlife Watching

The extensive species list at the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge website shows exactly how many opportunities for flora and fauna observation there are for the enthusiastic naturalist. The Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the prime birding spots in Monterey County; a bird watcher is virtually guaranteed to spot a brown or white pelican as well as many breeds of herons and egrets at the refuge.

In winter, spot the ruddy duck, gadwall and Northern shoveler. In spring, the American goldfinch and Wilson's warbler drop by on their commute north, while snowy plovers begin to nest. During the summer, the American avocet, black-necked stilt and Caspian tern make their home near the water, while barn, cliff, yellowthroat and song sparrows can be found along the River Trail. In the fall, take to the River Trail to spot the yellow warbler, white-crowned sparrow and Pacific-slope flycatcher.

Hiking

The Beach Trail is a straight trail that runs from near the parking lot to the ocean. Walk west through the grass from the parking lot, and turn left once you hit the trail. This trail is 1.6 miles round trip.

The River Loop Trail is a 1.2 mile hike that begins to the right of the parking area. It runs east to the Salinas River, continues northwest along the river, and then turns southwest at the salt marsh. When it intersects the Beach Trail, turn left to return to the parking lot.

Please do not hike off-trail or on the dunes. The Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is the nesting ground of several threatened and endangered plants and animals. If you hike off-trail or on the dunes, you may damage these fragile species.

Hunting

Ducks, geese, coots and common moorhens may be hunted at the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge. The hunting season runs from mid-October to mid-January. Hunting dogs are allowed at the refuge only if they are engaged in the hunt. Please refer to the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge online map to determine the borders of the hunting area, and refer to the California Department of Fish and Game for appropriate licenses and to learn the exact dates of the hunting season.

Directions

From Highway One, take exit 412 for Del Monte Boulevard. Follow Del Monte Boulevard northwest. It will become a dirt road. This dirt road ends in the unpaved parking lot for the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge. Please note that in heavy rains the road may be impassable. See the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge website for detailed online maps, including trail maps.

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