Strollin’ San Benito County in the Fall

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STROLLIN’ SAN BENITO COUNTY
Four Fabulous Fall Walking Destinations
By Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid

Boasting cooler weather and a sky that stretches out in a brilliant bright blue, Fall in San Benito County is absolutely stunning. The golden hillsides roll down into the vast ranch grasslands that shimmer lightly in the afternoon breezes, and lay low as the foundation for rustic barns and stately oak trees, and as the running ground for coyotes and local wildlife.

Home to the eastern entrance of Pinnacles National Park, a variety of state and regional parks, and historic downtowns and ranching communities, San Benito County in central California is the ideal fall destination for those who like to get out and take a walk – and you don’t have to be an Olympic gold medalist to participate. There’s something for everyone – for all ages, all fitness levels, and even specialty interests like history, geology, bird and wildlife watching, art and architecture. The region has become a popular year-round destination with outdoor activities such as bird watching and hiking, golf and tennis, as well as a wonderful wine tasting trail, a delicious selection of dining options, boutique shopping, historic parks and museums, and a full calendar of events, fairs and festivals, and parades.

Just remember, this is a season of change, so expect the occasional midday power surge of hot sunshine. Be sure to take plenty of water with you, slather on that sunscreen, wear layers and sensible walking shoes.

From scrambling through caves and climbing up mountains, to stepping back into the past in a charming historic downtown district, here are four fabulous San Benito County walking destinations, each offering a unique set of experiences.


1. PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK
Step into a World of Geological Wonder and a Plethora of Bird & Plant Life
With over 30 miles of trails through varied landscapes, and an abundance of bird, plant and wildlife species, Pinnacles National Park makes for the ultimate hiking adventure. The park boasts beautiful and diverse habitats that range from shaded oak woodlands and chaparral scrub, to open grasslands, craggy canyons, cool caves and stunning rock spires. Home to over 140 bird species, including the magnificent California condor, the park is a popular destination for birders, especially during the fall migration season. There are trails for all fitness levels, and some are wheelchair accessible.


2. HISTORIC TRES PINOS

Step into Central California’s Farm & Ranching Past
Nestled within San Benito County’s rolling hills, wine and ranch country, Tres Pinos is a small rustic historic town between Pinnacles National Park and the city of Hollister. The perfect walking destination for history buffs, the San Benito County Historic Park is a historical village on 33 acres within San Benito County Historical and Recreational Park. Here one can tour historic homes and buildings and see a collection of historic vehicles, farm and household implements, and the rose garden. Guided and group tours are available, plus, it’s a great place to stop for an afternoon picnic! Another trail and picnic opportunity is at Bolado Park Event Center. An easy flat walk, the trail will lead you around the San Benito County Fairgrounds and RV / Camping area, and out to a nice, shaded picnic area.


3. HISTORIC DOWNTOWN HOLLISTER
Stroll the Historic Streets of Art, Architecture & Geology
Take a self-guided walking tour of historic downtown Hollister, the county seat, and view public art, historic buildings and architecture, and the geology of the San Andreas Fault. From murals and sculptures to painted utility boxes, the 20+ colorful art pieces portray the stories of the history, nature, people and commerce of Hollister and San Benito County. When it comes to architecture, you’ll see a variety of styles including Pioneer, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Eastlake, Craftsman Bungalow, Prairie School, and Mediterranean Revival.

Maps for the historic building, art and geology self-guided tours are all available at the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, which is also in the downtown area. Of course, at the end of your Hollister walking adventure you may want to add in a little boutique shopping, or savor a bite and a sip at one of the many downtown restaurants, that range from farm-to-table fare to Mexican and American cuisine.


4. HISTORIC SAN JUAN BAUTISTA
Where California History Meets Nature

Known as “The City of History”, San Juan Bautista is an authentic historic village that makes for a wonderful day of exploring history, art and architecture. The exhibits and historic buildings at the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park represent California’s people, from Native Americans through the Spanish and Mexican cultural influences, right up to the American period in the late 19th century. Be sure to stop by the impressive Old Mission San Juan Bautista, the largest mission church in California. A self-guided walking tour map can be picked up at the Welcome Center within the San Juan Bakery.  

Hiking opportunities abound with Anza Trail that roughly follows the footsteps of the historic Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition, as well as Fremont Peak, a state park known for its expansive views, grasslands and astronomy facilities.

For San Benito County travel information including the area’s numerous hiking and walking trails, calendar of events, dining and lodging opportunities, shops, parks and museums, visit www.DiscoverSanBenitoCounty.com.

San Benito County Chamber
Bolado Park Event Center


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