Elkhorn Slough, Monterey
Elkhorn Slough is a former dairy farm that in the process of being restored to its original wetland state. It is a National Estuarine Research Reserve supported by the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Elkhorn Slough is a great place for bird watching and a relaxing, low-impact hike. The bird population consists of over 200 species which feed as they come through the area. The trails cover about 5 miles and wind around old farm buildings, over train tracks and across the marshes and estuaries. We saw plenty of crabs scrambling over rocks, dragonflies hovering over the water, a ton of butterflies floating from flower to flower and even came across what appeared to be a wild pig skull.
Elkhorn farm operated from 1922 until the early 1970s and owners had diked the marshes to use as pasture for the dairy cows. In 1983, the area was returned to marshland by opening the dikes and allowing the water to pass through. The area is the site of various experiments conducted on the marsh ecology. As you walk along the trails you frequently pass numbered experiments.
The Visitors Center is open Wednesday-Sunday 9:00am-5:00pm. Trail passes cost $2.50 per adult, no charge if you have a California fish and game license.