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Big Sur: Hiking in California’s condor country

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Condor 101 continues as we learn that Big Sur has eight nesting pairs, with each pair raising one chick every two years; that adults bring juveniles to the coast for rearing; that condors can fly 150 miles in one day; and that they mate for life, which can be a long one -- 50 to 60 years. Enough amazing facts to fill a naturalist’s notebook.

At Partington Cove pullout, 12 miles from our starting point, we hit condor paydirt. We peer through binoculars and the spotting scope at two adults and one mottled black/dark gray fledgling in the far-off coastal redwoods.

At a glance


Ventana Wildlife Society — condor tours

Regularly scheduled tours the second Sunday of every month. Must sign up for tour in advance by phone or email, cathyhamilton@ventanaws.org.

Address: 19045 Portola Drive, Suite F-1, Salinas, Calif.

Price: $50

Telephone: (831) 455-9514

Website: www.ventanaws.org


Andrew Molera State Park

Location: 20 miles south of Carmel on Highway One

Telephone: (831) 667-2315

Website: www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=582

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Address: 26 miles south of Carmel on Highway One

Telephone: (831) 667-2315

Website: www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Location: 37 miles south of Carmel on Highway One

Telephone: (831) 667-2315

Website: www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=578


Big Sur Lodge

Inside Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Your stay includes complimentary day-use passes to Andrew Molera and Julia Pfeiffer Burns parks.

Address: 47225 Highway One

Price: Doubles from $189

Telephone: (800) 424-4787

Website: www.bigsurlodge.com


Big Sur River Inn and Restaurant

Address: 46840 Highway One

Telephone: (831) 667-2700

Website: www.bigsurriverinn.com

Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant

Address: 47540 Highway One

Telephone: (831) 667-0520

Website: www.bigsurbakery.com

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The fledgling, orange-billed and adorned with fluffy boa-like neck feathers, is huddled in a tree, oblivious to parental flight lessons, and seems to have no interest in leaving.

One of the adults shows how it’s done. I watch as the magnificent condor spreads its 10-foot wingspan and lifts off, gliding along the coast and into the Santa Lucia Mountains, alert for food and, perhaps, checking out what’s new.

Like the condor, I’ve found a setting worthy of a repeat visit, with more hikes to explore, shells to find and morsels to savor.

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