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Monterey, California

Los Padres National Forest

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Forest and Coast

It's easy to think of California, particularly along the coast, as being one massive urban area. Nothing could be farther from the truth: A large section of the central coastal area of California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is preserved in the Los Padres National Forest. Stretching more than 200 miles north to south, including a large section of Monterey County down through the Big Sur area, this park encompasses about 1.75 million acres, nearly half of which is designated as wilderness.

If your travel plans take you to the California coast, take the opportunity to spend some quality time hiking and camping in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. This national forest is so large that it encompasses a number of ecologies, from semi-desert chaparral areas inland to redwood, oak and conifer forests along the coast. Although there are nearly 500 miles of off-road vehicle trails, most of the area does not have roads. Instead, enjoy more than 1,200 miles of maintained hiking trails. Check the Forest Service website for information on fees, maps and opportunities for experiencing this national treasure.

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