The Quick and Dirty:
Location: San Simeon State Beach is located south of Hearst Castle and north of Cambria, CA. It is about a 4 hour drive north of Los Angeles.
Activities around San Simeon State Beach: Easy walking access to a beautiful stretch of beaches and within a 15 minute drive to William Randolph Hearst’s famous Hearst Castle.
Good to know: Camping spots at San Simeon state beach can be reserved through reserveamerica.com and it fills up quickly over the summer and weekends. Advanced booking is highly recommended.
Camping Fees: $35 car camping fee per night. The campsites are small but it can fit 3 backpacking tents or 2 Coleman (car camping) tents. The $35 fee only covers entrance fee for one car, each additional cars are $10.
Hearst Castle Tour Fees: $25/person for the grand room tour. If you are interested in a guided tour at Hearst Castle on a weekend, it’s a good idea to make advanced reservations at least a couple days before your visit. This is a popular tourist destination and tickets have been known to sell out on the day of.
We packed up our car, said good by to Dakota and headed up the coast for our week long vacation Saturday morning. The drive from Orange County to San Simeon State Park is beautiful once you get on the 101N and Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH). We arrived at our campsite a little after lunch and found the campgrounds are lined with lots of trees, making it perfect for hanging up a hammock. Since we rarely get the opportunity to use our hammock, we were very excited to use it on this trip.
After setting up our tents and playing around in our hammock, we decided to explore the beach and do some hiking before dinner. Our first stop was the state beach. The beach was deserted because of the cold weather. Most sight seers were only coming out of their cars to snap a few photos before quickly jumping back into the warmth of the car. We did break a sweat by skipping rocks at a nearby estuary and found a nice hike away from the beach and freeway. Be on the look out for poison oak when hiking in these regions, we saw a ton from our short hike away from the beach!
We hiked the 3 mile RT, San Simeon trail next. It was a loop starting from the beach, crossing under the overpass into a seasonal swamp within the San Simeon Natural Preserve. The hike ended at the primitive campground of San Simeon and the loop took us about 2.5 hours to finish at a very leisure pace.
The next morning, we picked up early and headed to Hearst Castle for the Grand Room tour. Located high up from the coast, Hearst Castle was owned by the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Much of the land is still owned by the Hearst family but the castle itself has been donated to the California State Park. This is definitely a worth while tour if you are in the area on a sunny day. The buildings, view of the ocean and the indoor/outdoor pools are definitely worth a look.
Shortly after our tour, we packed up our car and headed to Big Sur for our 10 miler backpacking trip into Sykes hot springs.