Elkhorn Slough Reserve

Home to hundreds of species of birds and marine life, the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve is the remainder of an ancient river valley. The main channel winds seven miles inland, feeding 2,500 acres of rich marsh and tidal flats. Pelicans, herons and egrets, as well as countless fish, sharks, crabs, sea lions and otters call the slough home. A visitors center offers interpretive displays. Miles of well-maintained trails make this a favorite for hikers.

Elkhorn Slough Reserve Exhibits and Tours

Learn more about Elkhorn Slough Reserve! The visitors center has many interactive exhibits that teach visitors about this delicate and rare ecosystem. Interpretive guides lead nature walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10am and 1pm.


Elkhorn Slough Natural Estuarine Research Reserve is a clear favorite with birders. With over 346 species of resident and migratory birds at Elkhorn Slough, it's no surprise why. Elkhorn Slough Reserve has rookeries for heron and egrets that become especially active in May. Other species often spotted in Elkhorn Slough are brown pelicans and least terns. The Elkhorn Slough Foundation has a thorough list of birds found at Elkhorn Slough.

A blind has been constructed especially for birders around the halfway point on the Five Fingers Loop Trail. This blind is large enough for several people, so bring your birding friends! If you've forgotten your binoculars, the visitors center has several pairs for loan.

Elkhorn Slough Reserve offers an early birding walk at 8:30am on the first Saturday of every month.


Elkhorn Slough's gentle waters and fascinating flora and fauna make it an ideal spot for kayaking. The main water channel is 7 miles long, and many smaller side channels provide opportunities for exploration. Be aware of the tides, however; that small side channel you're paddling on might disappear quickly at low tide! Respect the local wildlife; stay 200 feet from water mammals at all times.


Elkhorn Slough Natural Estuarine Reserve is a surprisingly beautiful hiking spot, with easy, largely flat trails that are perfect for an easy walk. With five miles of trails through marshes, woodlands, and alongside tidal creeks, Elkhorn Slough Reserve is a great spot for hiking. When hiking at Elkhorn Slough, please remain on the trails, both for the wildlife's protection and for your own; the brush in the area contains liberal amounts of poison oak.

Hours and Fees

The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve trails, restrooms and Visitors Center are available for use Wednesday through Sunday from 9am-5pm. The day use fee for Elkhorn Slough is $4.12 by credit card only.

Map and Directions

Take Highway 1 to Moss Landing. Turn east on Dolan Road. After 3.5 miles, turn left on Elkhorn Road. The Reserve gate will be on your left in 1.9 miles.

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