At least once each season, Mark Pisoni takes a morning away from work to survey, from a different angle, the spectacular landscapes he knows by heart. As vineyard manager for Pisoni, there isn’t an inch of the family’s acreage he doesn’t walk regularly. Alongside his brother Jeff, the family’s vintner, Mark’s been scrabbling over rocks and hiking up and down trails by the coast since he was a boy.
These days, together with his wife Quinn or his son or daughter, a particularly beautiful morning can tempt him to steal time to revisit a familiar trail in Big Sur or Point Lobos or Pinnacles—places known across the U.S. for their iconic views and seascapes. Mark loves introducing people to these spots so close to his home.
Here’s Mark on Buzzard’s Roost in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, his all-time favorite hike: “I love this trail because it’s two hikes in one. You get to see the ocean, to walk under the redwoods, and then to see an entirely different terrain, at higher elevations, with chaparral and native brush. If you go in summer, hike this trail wearing layers. At the lower elevations, you’ll be walking in the shade of the redwoods. An hour or so later, the landscape changes to chaparral and you’ll be in the sun. When you get high enough to see the sea, it’s marvelous. The California coastline here is rugged and rocky and dramatic.
“Recently, my son Davis and I backpacked up and camped out on the ridge. To wake up and see the sunrise over the ocean feels like being on the edge of the world, as if you could see all the way to Hawaii. From up here, you get an outstanding view of Pico Blanco, the peak after which we named our newest wine: Lucy Pico Blanco, a gorgeous blend of pinot gris and pinot blanc that honors our region’s earliest grape-growing traditions.”
Hiking here is a great way to get to know our area. But so is drinking Lucy Rose and Lucy Pico Blanco. Well-made wine is always an expression of place. By savoring a glass of Lucy, you’re able in your own way, and from home, to gain a feel for the wind and the soil and the sun out here in beautiful coastal Monterey.
Five More Hikes Mark Recommends in Coastal Monterey
- Big Sur River Gorge Trail, Pfeiffer Big Sur State ParkHike for about a mile through the redwoods and then rock-hop and wade through the river until you get to an impressive river hole.
- Lupine Loop Trail, Garland Ranch Regional ParkGentle hike in Carmel Valley that is mostly flat that takes you up to Mesa Pond where you’ll get a great view of the valley.
- Snively’s Ridge Trail, Garland Ranch Regional ParkThe continuation of the Lupine Loop, Snively’s ridge and Snively’s corral is a great hike to do if you’re feeling strong. The ridge is a steep 20 or 30% incline.
- Bird Island Trail, Point Lobos State Nature ReserveThis short hike offers views of China Cove and Gibson Beach as well as of Bird Island, home in spring and summer to thousands of Brandt’s cormorants and Western gull chicks.
- High Peaks—Balconies Cave Loop, Pinnacles National ParkThis is a challenging hike with amazing views of rock formations. Best done in the springtime, before the weather gets too hot.