New eco-tourism effort has visitors walking from Santa Cruz to Monterey
“The more you travel, the more you come home and you realize that we live in this amazing place,” says Santa Cruz resident Margaret Leonard. Leonard has hiked all around the world—places like the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal, the Inca trail in Peru, and The Pyrenees in Spain, just to name a few. However, she says, “I sometimes came home, and realized, I knew more about some obscure trail in Switzerland than I knew about my own backyard.”
Leonard has spent many years discovering the trails and beaches of this area that are too often missed by the busy and distant eye. After retiring from her job as an attorney, she ventured into eco-tourism by founding her own company, Slow Adventures. This May she will launch Slow Adventure’s “Walk the Bay,” a culmination of all the things she loves: Santa Cruz, the outdoors, walking and hiking, and people (“Even after 20 years as an attorney, I still enjoy being around people and meeting new people,” she jokes.)
As the name implies, “Walk the Bay” is not the formulaic vacation in which participants are herded in a tour bus from one congested photo-op destination to another. Instead, “Walk the Bay” is a five-day, four-night walking adventure down the coast of the Monterey Bay. Supplied with Leonard’s own detailed maps and notes as your guide and a gourmet sack lunch, “you propel yourself” down the coast, discovering the hidden attractions Leonard once re-discovered herself.
Starting in Santa Cruz, there will be plenty of opportunities to surf, kayak, and rediscover the famous beaches that dubbed us Surf City. Upon leaving Aptos and the populated beaches, it gets a lot quieter. Between here and Monterey Bay, says Leonard, is “30 miles of absolutely beautiful and very desolate beaches.” And depending on your interests, you can customize your walks accordingly. Start and end each day with yoga on the beach, or maybe follow a local bird guide and encounter some of the 200 species of bird that flock to the Monterey Bay. Perhaps you might decide to whale watch, or discover historical Native American and Californian sites. Or surf, or swim, or go horseback riding. And at the end of each day’s adventure, you can look forward to some well-deserved indulgences: a beachfront hotel, a delicious dinner, and perhaps a bottle of wine.
For many, the Monterey Bay exists as a stretch of coast, visible in the distant horizon on a clear day. But really, do we know what is there? Leonard sums it up, “There is nothing. There’s just you, the sand, and the ocean. And there’s tremendous beauty.”
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