LOS OSOS OAKS STATE NATURAL RESERVE
This Reserve features ancient sand dunes covered with centuries-old coast live oak trees. According to botanists, five major plant communities thrive within the reserve. They are coastal sage scrub, central coastal scrub, dune oak scrub, coast live oak forest, and riparian (streamside). The oak communities exist close to each other, but each has its own character. The oak scrub has dwarf oak trees growing on the ancient (relict) sand dune. Though they are coast live oak trees, they rarely grow more than six to eight feet tall. The larger coast live oaks are located where the soil is moister. These giants can grow to 25 feet in height. Their massive trunks and gnarled branches twist into all sorts of fantastic shapes.
In 1769, Gaspar de Portola's expedition passed through the Los Osos Valley. Father Crespi's diary notes that the expedition saw "troops of bears (osos)" in the valley, and, since then, it became known as the Los Osos Valley. When the new Monterey mission populace faced starvation, a hunting expedition was sent to the Los Osos Valley, killed many grizzlies, and packed the meat back to Monterey, saving the people there from disaster.
Los Osos Oaks was part of a Mexican land grant that was eventually divided into farm and ranchland. Incredibly, unlike the trees in the surrounding area which were cleared away to allow for agriculture, the magnificent oaks in the park are still growing.