Highway 46 West (7 photos)

Coming back down from Mission San Antonio de Padua and King City to Paso Robles, we left Highway 101 and went west on Highway 46, a scenic road from Paso Robles to the coast that Shuwen had read about. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect – while the hills inland were already pale and beige with dry grass, further west everything was still vibrantly green. Highway 46 is also called Green Valley Road, and we could see why!

We were just about to leave Paso Robles behind us when we noticed a wonderful solitary Valley Oak (Quercus lobata or Roble Oak, the namesake for Paso Robles, “Oak Pass”) on a little hill in a wheat field – it was almost too perfect to be real. We had to take a look, so we left Highway 46 for a little detour on winding and narrow Vineyard Road (which is, as name and location imply, once more lined with vineyards left and right).

After we had our fill (figuratively only; many of the vineyards and tasting rooms were actually closed) we continued on Highway 46 west. There’s a little bit of elevation gain from Paso Robles so there’s not much to see up to the highest point of the route – but once past it, the views open up to the west, and it’s really incredibly beautiful. The best views are on the south side of the road, and there’s enough opportunities to stop and enjoy them. Mount Hollister and Morro Rock are visible in the distance, and soft green hills disappearing in the coastal haze – it almost feels like a more rugged and undeveloped version of Tuscany.

I’d love to come back here! I imagine that an early morning with a shallow marine layer that covers only the immediate coast would be fantastic. Maybe next Spring… :-)

PS: a black & white version of the solitary oak made it into my “Arbres Monochromatique” portfolio of trees.

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