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Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

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Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
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  • The monarch butterflies that migrate here have an average life span of six months. Many other similar species live only six weeks!- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • The monarch butterflies migrate to these eucalyptus trees for food and shelter during migration season.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • Trails are ADA accessible so that everyone can enjoy these beautiful insects.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • One of the best features of Santa Maria area beaches are the sand dunes and the ability to getter a better view!- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • The sanctuary trail intersects with Meadow Creek Trail that leads out to beautiful Pismo Beach.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • The dunes look untouched in some areas of the beach. - Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • An egret preening its feathers. - Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • The Meadow Creek Trail is an ideal place to spot the local birdlife. - Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • Pismo Beach lies in front of North Beach Campground and is a popular place to catch some sun in the summer.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • Throughout the year you will be able to see beautiful flowers as well.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • Great views of Pismo Beach from the boardwalk.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
  • The trail is easily accessible for families.- Monarch Butterfly Grove + Meadow Creek Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy trail. Ocean views. Beach access. Butterflies.
Cons: 
Close to a large campground. Crowded. Butterflies appear seasonally.
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Region:
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Highest point: 
65.00 ft (19.81 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Fall, Summer
Total Distance: 
1.40 mi (2.25 km)
Total elevation gain: 
6.00 ft (1.83 m)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
59.00 ft (17.98 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Monarch Butterfly Grove to Meadow Creek Trail is a wonderful family-friendly walk through a major seasonal butterfly migration area to beautiful Pismo Beach in Santa Maria Valley. 

Looking for butterflies specifically? The eucalyptus trees will be covered in them from late October through February. This location hosts on average around 25,000 butterflies during the winter season and is one of the largest colonies in the nation. During the migration season in Pismo Beach, there are daily talks held by local docents at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and these are excellent opportunities to learn about these facsinating insects and get up close and personal with them. This specifc breed of monarch butterfly has a lifespan of about six months, which is longer than average for this species. Migrating all the way from the Rocky Mountains, they use the eucalyptus trees here as a food source and shelter. In rare cases experts have also found butterflies from British Columbia, Arizona, and Oregon at the sanctuary. Unfortunately, the monarch butterfly population is decreasing rapidly. Over 200,000 butterflies migrated to this area in 1990, and the count was only 20,000 in 2016. Most of the change in population decrease correlates with the lack of milkweed; experts believe this is due to a growth in agriculture and urban development along their migration route.

Even if you don't happen to be in the area during the migration season, this trail is a must do! The easy walk through the giant eucalyptus trees will have you humbled as soon as you arrive. Follow the path to Meadow Creek Trail and head west toward the ocean. The trail opens up to Pismo Beach, where you can wade in the ocean, build a sand castle, fly a kite, dig for clams, or do whatever you like to do most on the beach! 

If you have the opportunity to stay a night or two, the North Beach Campground is just next door. Boasting over 100 camping sites, there is plenty of room for everyone. It is first-come, first served between December 1 and May 14. Make sure to book in advance if you'd like to stay between May 15 and November 30.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(4 within a 30 mile radius)

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(21 within a 30 mile radius)

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