Lace Lichen Trail

This 0.5 mile trail parallels main entrance road coastward from entrance station -- a pleasant and safer alternative to walking that road.   It also connects with the Pine Ridge Trail and with the upper end of Mound Meadow Trail, and, across the road, with the trail up to Whalers Knoll. Accessibility: Flat, mostly easy walking, but has a few sections with roots that would impede wheelchairs. Does not meet ADA standards.

Lace Lichen Trail is named for the gray-green lichen (called “old man’s beard” by some) that hangs from the branches of the Monterey pines and coast live oaks through which this trail winds. Look closely at this "lace" lichen to discover why it's so named.  This organism (actually a partnership of a fungus and an alga) does not harm the trees. Because lace lichen absorbs moisture, it was used in the past as a dressing for wounds, and by Native Americans as a diaper. It also helps the trees by capturing the summer fog’s moisture; this water drips to the forest floor to be absorbed by the trees' roots. This unusual precipitation source helps to make a forest possible in our area of Mediterranean climate, with its long rain-free dry season, and its low (20" or less) annual rainfall totals. And, a bonus: deer like to eat it, and birds carry it off for nesting material.
 

The large shrubs you pass under along the trail, some approaching the size of small trees, are blue blossom ceanothus, also called wild lilac. When they bloom in the late winter/early spring, they are lovely to look at and provide a nice fragrance.

 

 

This is also a good trail so see some amazingly beautiful (but poisonous) mushrooms. After winter rains, many varieties pop up through the mat of pine needles; a particularly conspicuous one is the poisonous red fly Amanita, seen at left.