The San Simeon Creek Campgrounds offers 74 campsites for tent camping or recreational vehicles. The maximum length for a RV is 35 feet. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. Water spigots are available throughout the campground. Restrooms with flush toilets and coin operated showers, a dump station and water fill-up for RV's, and pay phones are also available. Firewood is for sale from the campground host.
Our Favorite San Simeon Creek Campground Sites: 24, 25, 38, 47, and 50.
Washburn Campground is a primitive campground with 68 campsites and is located approximately 1 mile inland from the beach on a plateau overlooking the Santa Lucia mountains as well as the Pacific Ocean. Washburn campground can be accessed from the San Simeon Creek Campground entrance station. Facilities here include a fire ring and picnic table at each campsite, water spigots, chemical flush toilets and use of the dump station and water fill-up.
Our Favorite San Simeon Washburn Campground Sites: 202, 204, and 255
San Simeon SP
VANGORDON AT SAN SIMEON CREEK
Cambria CA 93428
San Simeon State Park is located 35 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, and 5 miles south of the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument Visitor Center. The community of Cambria is located 2 miles to the South.
La Cuesta Encantada, "The Enchanted Hill" high above the ocean at San Simeon, was the creation of two extraordinary individuals, William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. Their collaboration, which began in 1919 and continued for nearly 30 years, transformed an informal hilltop campsite into the world-famous Hearst Castle -- a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 8 acres of cultivated gardens. The main house itself, "La Casa Grande," is a grand setting for Hearst's collection of European antiques and art pieces. It was also a most fitting site for hosting the many influential guests who stayed at Hearst's San Simeon ranch. Guests included President Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, and a diverse array of luminaries from show business and publishing industries.
Recreational activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, surfing, beachcombing, bird watching and whale watching. The Junior Ranger Program is a regularly scheduled interpretive program for children. Interpretive walks of the San Simeon Trail may also be available.
San Simeon State Park boasts a diversity of scenery from shoreline to Monterey pine forest. A new trail, complete with interpretive displays, a boardwalk that crosses a wetland, and numerous benches that offer a place to rest and observe the tranquil surroundings. The pathway circles the parks San Simeon Creek and Washburn campgrounds. About 0.25 mile of the path is wheelchair accessible.
Back in the 1880s, the parks 500 acres of backcountry were part of Ira Whittaker's ranch and dairy operation. Eucalyptus was planted, both as a windbreak and for firewood to fuel the dairy's boiler to make cheese.
Botanical highlight is a stand of Monterey pine, part of the famed Cambria pines, and one of only four native groves left on earth. In winter, Monarch butterflies, more often seen on the Central Coast in eucalyptus trees and other nonnative flora, cluster in the parks Monterey pines.
San Simeon Creek is habitat for the endangered red-legged frog and Western pond turtle. Many migratory birds can be counted at the parks seasonal wetland: cinnamon teal, mallards, egrets and herons.
Directions to trailhead: From Highway 1, just south of the turnoff for San Simeon Creek Campground, turn inland and park at Washburn day-use area. Walk inland along the service road to the signed trailhead on your right. Campers can walk to the trailhead just west of San Simeon Creek bridge along the campground road.
The hike: The path tours the eastern fringe of the seasonal wetland and soon reaches a boardwalk that leads across it from one viewing area to another. Beyond the boardwalk the trail junctions. The right fork leads southwest 0.2 mile to the Moonstone Gardens restaurant and Highway 1. Along this side trail, Eagle-eyed hikers might get a glimpse of Hearst Castle located five miles north.
The main trail climbs onto a flat-topped, Monterey pine-dotted ridge. A sometimes overgrown path detours left (north) two hundred yards to a scenic overlook.
Our route descends from the pines into lush riparian area and turns north. A boardwalk crosses a boggy lowland filled with willow, cottonwood and a thick understory of wax myrtle and blackberry bushes.
The path next ascends grassy slopes along the eastern boundary of the park. From the former grazing land, you look out over a scene from the California of a century ago: a windmill, pastoral slopes dotted with cows, the unspoiled beauty of the southern Santa Lucia Mountains.
The trail skirts the edge of the campground, then leads west. Savor the mountain vistas as the path heads southwest on the bluffs above San Simeon Creek.
About a quarter mile from its end the trail splits. The path you've been following continues above San Simeon Creek back to the day use area. A second branch crosses the campground road and leads toward the wetland boardwalk, where you turn right and retrace the first five minutes of your walk back to the trailhead.