Elfin Forest Natural Area
The Elfin Forest Natural Area is a nature preserve protecting a unique plant community in Los Osos-Baywood Park, San Luis Obispo County, central California. It consists of prehistoric sand dunes, rising 150 feet (46 m) above southern Morro Bay, on the north of Los Osos-Baywood Park.
The Elfin Forest Natural Area covers 90 acres, that have been acquired by The Los Osos / Morro Bay Chapter of Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) since 1988. The land was accepted by and now belongs to San Luis Obispo County Parks and California State Parks. The transfer's acceptance by the agencies was based on ongoing active stewardship by SWAP, which continues to the present day. The nature preserve opened to the public in 1994.
The native Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) trees compose an elfin forest, in a naturally harsh location with poor soil conditions, salt spray, and constant winds, that have stunted and directed their growth. They now compose a woodland of trees, with the largest between 200 and 400 years old, and range from a height of 20 feet (6.1 m) in sheltered areas to a low of 4 feet (1.2 m) near the tallest ridge line.
- Coastal sage scrub
- Coastal brackish marsh
- Riparian woodland fringe
- Pygmy oak woodland
- Maritime chaparral
- Coastal dune scrub
- Oak and manzanita complex.
A nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) boardwalk loop, constructed in 1999 to protect the Elfin Forest's sensitive habitats, provides access for young and old, walkers and wheelchair users. Viewpoint sections along it have expansive overlooks over Morro Bay and the sand dunes spit, and the diverse bird species in the estuary.
In pre-Columbian times Chumash Native Americans had a significant settlement named Los Osos Back Bay on a stabilized sand dune to the east of the Elfin Forest. There is a long Chumash midden within the dwarf forest.
- Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve — another unique oak woodland forest park, also in Los Osos-Baywood Park.
- Natural history of San Luis Obispo County
- Elfin forest
- Pygmy forest
- Pedology (soil study)
- Elfin-forest.org: Elfin Forest Natural Area
- Satellite closeup of the Elfin Forest Natural Area — with access points and trails.
- Elfin-forest.org: Conservation management
- Elfin-forest.org: About the Elfin Forest
- Elfin-forest.org: Flora and Fauna — with links to 9 lists of the plants and animals of the Elfin Forest.
- Brian Milne. 2008. Top Trails California Central Coast: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone, Published by Wilderness Press, ISBN 978-0-89997-437-8, 313 pages
- C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Los Osos Back Bay, Megalithic Portal, editor A. Burnham
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to
El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Preserve.
- Elfin-forest.org: Official El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Preserve website — info, images, biota lists, maps.
- California State Parks, San Luis Obispo Coast: Elfin Forest Natural Preserve
- Elfin Forest photo gallery
- Hikespeak.com: Elfin Forest Natural Preserve — images.