CA, Monterey Bay Area: Elkhorn Slough

Elkhorn Slough is one of the best places in North America to see birds, and the best place for wheelchair riders to get close to the slough is little Kirby Park, at the upper end of Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve. Close to 350 bird species live in the slough or migrate through. The slough reaches seven miles inland from Moss Landing harbor. The reserve encompasses 3,000 acres of salt marshes, mudflats, waterways, oak woodlands, and grasslands. A short (about .25 mile) accessible trail travels along the slough and across mudflats, providing plenty of opportunities to see egrets, sandpipers, terns, warblers, loons, peregrine falcons, and many other birds, even occasionally such rarities as white-faced ibis. The park also has a boat launch for small watercraft, and the steep concrete launch ramp may allow some wheelchair riders to reach the water.

Trail/Pathway Details
see access criteria for definitions
Trailhead: West end of parking lot near restroom
Length: Under one mile total
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Boardwalk narrows to 3.5 feet
Typical Grade: Level
Terrain: Hard
The boardwalk is slightly bumpy.
Obstacles: A switchback at the trail entrance may be difficult for scooters.

The first third of the trail travels along the edge of the slough. Pickleweed is the predominant plant, its crimson colors contrasting nicely with the surrounding water. You cross the mudflats on a narrow boardwalk that is several hundred feet long, with vista points and pullouts that are wide enough to turn around in on the otherwise narrow trail. The boardwalk ends at a step down to an inaccessible dirt path. On the return you see hills dotted with grapevines and fruit trees. You will likely encounter photographers and birders.

Accessibility Details
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Accessible Parking: No
Even though there is no designated disabled parking, you will likely be able to take up two spaces in the large, typically empty lot.
Accessible Restroom: Yes
West end of parking lot. Portable unit has no sink.

Additional Information
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Map: See here.
Fees: None
Dogs: On a leash

Avatar photo Bonnie Lewkowicz (59 Posts)

I has worked for more than 30 years advocating for, and educating about access to outdoor recreation and tourism for people with disabilities. I hold a degree in Recreation Therapy and was a travel agent specializing in accessible travel for many years. In this capacity, and now as Associate Director at Wheelchair Traveling, I consult with the travel industry about accessibility, conducts disability awareness trainings and writes about travel and outdoor recreation. I also authored a book titled, A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast, about accessible trails and has produced several access guides to San Francisco. My most current project is a website of accessible trails along the entire California Coast ( My extensive experience as a wheelchair rider combined with her professional experience has provided me with in-depth knowledge about inclusive tourism and outdoor recreation.

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