Fort Ord National Monument: Hiking from the Creekside Terrace Trailhead

When I went to explore Pinnacles National Park a few weeks ago, I wanted to spend a little time in Fort Ord National Monument as well. There was almost no information about it online when I was researching though so I just drove to the Creekside Terrace Trailhead, grabbed a map and set out to see what I could find. I will say that this short hike was beautiful, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. I am sure there are a bunch of other great trails here so let me know if you have a recommendation in the comments.

fort ord national monument hiking-1

Details

  • About 2 miles round trip
  • 400 feet of elevation gain
  • Location: Creekside Terrace, Salinas, CA 93908

Getting There

I started this hike from the Creekside Terrace Trailhead, which is off Highway 68 south of Salinas. You will see the sign for the monument when you arrive, and you will proceed into the large parking lot.

The Trail

fort ord national monument hiking-2

There are tons of trails here, and it is relatively easy to follow them so if you want to do something different than me that is fine as well. I recommend grabbing a map near the bathroom, which will show you the trails and help you wind around and get back to your car.

fort ord national monument hiking-3

To follow my specific trail, set out on Old Reservation road for about a tenth of a mile. You will see a single track (trail 31) that leads off to the left, and that is the one I took.

fort ord national monument hiking-4

After a short walk uphill, you will start going in and out of shaded areas. These trees (oak I believe) are nice, and each new covered area provides another photo opportunity.

fort ord national monument hiking-5

This section of the trail is uphill so take your time, some parts are steeper than others but overall it is very manageable.

fort ord national monument hiking-6

As you start to gain elevation, you will get excellent views back towards the parking lot and the farming area out in the distance.

fort ord national monument hiking-8

When the trail crests over the hill, you will reach a three-way split. I went on Trail 34 to the right as I saw a unique rock formation on the hill in the distance, so I wanted to check it out.

fort ord national monument hiking-11

This section is short as well, and it proceeds uphill on a single track until you get to the aforementioned rock / cliff face.

fort ord national monument hiking-12

I explored this a little bit as it seemed to have either wind caves or animal dug caves, not sure which.

fort ord national monument hiking-14

When you reach the top of the hill, you will have a fantastic view down the valley and back into the monument.

fort ord national monument hiking-13

This area is beautiful, and you can see all of the trails cutting through it, so I am sure there are a bunch of good ones.

fort ord national monument hiking-15

From here I went on Trail 26 as this took you along the ridgeline for about a tenth of a mile. It was a charming section as well, and I just enjoyed being able to see down into the valley for a little bit longer.

fort ord national monument hiking-16

When Trail 26 ends I took a hard right on Sandy Ridge Road which took me back in the direction that I started.

fort ord national monument hiking-17

This part of the trail is on an old dirt fire road, and it is much less exciting than the single track. This trail goes for about a half mile as you continue downhill and can see the parking lot down to the right.

fort ord national monument hiking-18

Eventually, the trail winds around the mountain, and you will see a paved road that you will want to cross and continue on trail 30.

fort ord national monument hiking-19

Stay right at the fork and proceed around the mountain and back along the other side which is directly above the parking lot.

fort ord national monument hiking-20

This section will take you past the cliff you no doubt saw when you parked your car.

fort ord national monument hiking-21

It is sheer cliff face with the same type of coastal rock formations you would see at a place like Torrey Pines. It is a cool end to the hike.

fort ord national monument hiking-22

After checking out the cliff face, you will proceed for another 5-7 minutes before the trail dumps you back down into the parking lot.

fort ord national monument hiking-23

All in all, this was an excellent introduction into the beautiful Fort Ord National Monument. While it is no Pinnacles National Park, I still want to make my way back up to it again to explore more of the trails. Let me know if you have any recommendations for this area in the comments.

Fort Ord National Monument: Hiking from the Creekside Terrace Trailhead

When I went to explore Pinnacles National Park a few weeks ago, I wanted to spend a little time in Fort Ord National Monument as well. There was almost no information about it online when I was researching though so I just drove to the Creekside Terrace Trailhead, grabbed a map and set out to see what I could find. I will say that this short hike was beautiful, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. I am sure there are a bunch of other great trails here so let me know if you have a recommendation in the comments.

fort ord national monument hiking-1

Details

  • About 2 miles round trip
  • 400 feet of elevation gain
  • Location: Creekside Terrace, Salinas, CA 93908

Getting There

I started this hike from the Creekside Terrace Trailhead, which is off Highway 68 south of Salinas. You will see the sign for the monument when you arrive, and you will proceed into the large parking lot.

The Trail

fort ord national monument hiking-2

There are tons of trails here, and it is relatively easy to follow them so if you want to do something different than me that is fine as well. I recommend grabbing a map near the bathroom, which will show you the trails and help you wind around and get back to your car.

fort ord national monument hiking-3

To follow my specific trail, set out on Old Reservation road for about a tenth of a mile. You will see a single track (trail 31) that leads off to the left, and that is the one I took.

fort ord national monument hiking-4

After a short walk uphill, you will start going in and out of shaded areas. These trees (oak I believe) are nice, and each new covered area provides another photo opportunity.

fort ord national monument hiking-5

This section of the trail is uphill so take your time, some parts are steeper than others but overall it is very manageable.

fort ord national monument hiking-6

As you start to gain elevation, you will get excellent views back towards the parking lot and the farming area out in the distance.

fort ord national monument hiking-8

When the trail crests over the hill, you will reach a three-way split. I went on Trail 34 to the right as I saw a unique rock formation on the hill in the distance, so I wanted to check it out.

fort ord national monument hiking-11

This section is short as well, and it proceeds uphill on a single track until you get to the aforementioned rock / cliff face.

fort ord national monument hiking-12

I explored this a little bit as it seemed to have either wind caves or animal dug caves, not sure which.

fort ord national monument hiking-14

When you reach the top of the hill, you will have a fantastic view down the valley and back into the monument.

fort ord national monument hiking-13

This area is beautiful, and you can see all of the trails cutting through it, so I am sure there are a bunch of good ones.

fort ord national monument hiking-15

From here I went on Trail 26 as this took you along the ridgeline for about a tenth of a mile. It was a charming section as well, and I just enjoyed being able to see down into the valley for a little bit longer.

fort ord national monument hiking-16

When Trail 26 ends I took a hard right on Sandy Ridge Road which took me back in the direction that I started.

fort ord national monument hiking-17

This part of the trail is on an old dirt fire road, and it is much less exciting than the single track. This trail goes for about a half mile as you continue downhill and can see the parking lot down to the right.

fort ord national monument hiking-18

Eventually, the trail winds around the mountain, and you will see a paved road that you will want to cross and continue on trail 30.

fort ord national monument hiking-19

Stay right at the fork and proceed around the mountain and back along the other side which is directly above the parking lot.

fort ord national monument hiking-20

This section will take you past the cliff you no doubt saw when you parked your car.

fort ord national monument hiking-21

It is sheer cliff face with the same type of coastal rock formations you would see at a place like Torrey Pines. It is a cool end to the hike.

fort ord national monument hiking-22

After checking out the cliff face, you will proceed for another 5-7 minutes before the trail dumps you back down into the parking lot.

fort ord national monument hiking-23

All in all, this was an excellent introduction into the beautiful Fort Ord National Monument. While it is no Pinnacles National Park, I still want to make my way back up to it again to explore more of the trails. Let me know if you have any recommendations for this area in the comments.

John Steinbeck’s Museum & House in Salinas

I have to admit I am a huge fan of literary history. Over the last few months, I have enjoyed adding in stops that showcase famous authors and their impact on the state we live in. I first did this by retracing some of Mark Twain’s steps in Angels Camp, California’s Gold Country. I did it again on a recent trip to Monterey where I spent time exploring Cannery Row in search of what Steinbeck wrote about in the novel of the same name. This adventure lead me to Salinas to visit the museum dedicated to his stories and to see his house. Here is all of the information so you can do the latter two yourself.

Steinbeck House and Museum-1

Details

  • Cost: $12 for the museum
  • Location: 1 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901
  • House is located two blocks of walking from the museum

History

Steinbeck House and Museum-2

John Steinbeck was born in 1902 at the home located only a few blocks from the center. The house is still available for tours to this day and is a working restaurant.

Steinbeck House and Museum-3

The center itself was opened in 1998 to encourage the preservation and education of the works of John Steinbeck. It houses the largest collection of Steinbeck archives in the entire United States and features rotating exhibits that focus on things Steinbeck was passionate about like agriculture.

The Center

Steinbeck House and Museum-4

I was on the last leg of a road trip when I rolled into the center right around 4:30 PM, only 30 minutes before it closed. Due to time constraints, I had to rush through the museum, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well done it is, and I plan to make my way back there at a later date when I have more time.

Steinbeck House and Museum-13

The museum is mostly one main exhibit area which is broken into sections telling history and stories about each of his famous novels. My favorite of these is East of Eden, and there was a huge section dedicated to it that I spent the most time in. Here are some of the other famous stories that he wrote and an example of what their exhibits looked like. Honestly, if you like his stories you could easily spend a few hours here taking it all in.

Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck House and Museum-8

Of Mice and Men

Steinbeck House and Museum-7

The Pearl

Steinbeck House and Museum-12

Cannery Row

Steinbeck House and Museum-9

Tortilla Flat

Steinbeck House and Museum-11

As you are working your way through the museum, you will pass the sections dedicated to his books and learn more about his later life, including information about his Nobel Prize in literature and his life in New York City.

Steinbeck House and Museum-14

The exhibit ends with the above quote which I thought was fitting for such a good author.

Steinbeck House and Museum-15

Also, there is a recap of his entire life biography before you exit back into the lobby of the museum.

Steinbeck House and Museum-16

The museum also had an area with a video playing about his life, but unfortunately I did not have time to watch it, and a store that sold lots of different pieces of memorabilia including his books.

Steinbeck House and Museum-17

On the way out one of the workers directed me to how to get to his house, so I set out from the center to see it before I left.

John Steinbeck’s House

Steinbeck House and Museum-18

After exiting the center, you will head right (away from the parking structure) and start walking down that street. After about two blocks of walking, you will see his house on the corner.

Steinbeck House and Museum-19

The house is beautiful and well kept since it has historical significance and because it is a working restaurant. Unfortunately, it was closed when I went, but I walked around it and looked at the different historical plaques.

Steinbeck House and Museum-21

All in all, I enjoyed my time in Salinas and look forward to when I can come back and spend more time here. I can honestly say that this is an excellent way to learn more about the famous author and California history while you are at it. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.