Walking Harmony Headlands



Once – not so long ago – the tiny hamlet of Harmony, California was for sale. An idyllic bend along The Pacific Coast Highway between a velvet-covered ridge and a golden hillside, I wondered who had purchased this small patch of perfection.

Walk across the highway and over the hill, you find the Pacific Coast. Up the ridge is the pristine Los Padres National Forest. Mist in the morning, sunny breezes in the afternoon and foggy evenings wrap Harmony in what you may believe is fiction, too beautiful to be real.

But real people – 18 of them –  do live here. And many others drop in for browsing the wooden clapboard storefronts, shopping, eating at the cafe and watching the glassblowers shape their art. An appealing wine tasting room and restaurant are at the end of a picturesque winding drive.

Though my interest in the town is real, my true reason for driving the 12 miles north is to walk the Harmony Headlands Trail. One and a half miles over a hill from Highway 1, the Pacific Ocean pushes its salty spray again and again in tides against the bluffs. I could walk over, hillside to coastline and see what I could see. Many people have walked this trail, but until I do it myself, is it real? I want to see for myself before I believe.

Even though I live just a few miles south and the beach breeze cools me frequently throughout the day, I am always surprised to walk along a hillside path during the parched summer, then pass into cool breezes. Close to the hillside, you have sunny warmth; take one step out from the hills’ protection, crisp ocean coolness reaches out to touch you. Up the hill from the trailhead I go, stepping in and out of the freshest air on the planet.

The trail winds around and then up along the ridge of the humpback coastal mound. We call them hills, but these are really geographic waves of rock and earth with covers of wildflowers in the spring and dry grass and ground squirrels in the summer. The wide pathway makes for easy walking and I think that next time, I may test out summer sandals instead of hiking boots. Why not? In this land of near-make-believe, it’s hard to think that anything would come and bite my ankles and the weather surely does not call for anything hardy or wooly. Flips-flops would do just fine.

I crest the ridge. The sun is a hot-rock massage on my shoulders and the mist offers a fresh air salt scrub for my face. I might as well be at a high-price spa. But this is so much nicer, and costs nothing but footsteps. I pause at the top to relish the simple grace of feeling clean. As pleasant as all that is, though, the view is the real attraction.

Today, the purity of the sky, the time of day and the currents of the tide turn the Pacific Ocean nearly turquoise. A double line of white rolls against the shore, but lazily, as the waves find their way to the rocks and sand. The path lets me ramble down, an easy pace, to the bluffs that form the west coast of the North American Continent.

Cool offshore breezes blend with the sun shining its pleasant warmth. Even though I face a bit of a climb on the way back, I don’t worry about the heat or the cold. Mother Nature has taken care of that for me. Am I just a bit too comfortable? Is this just a bit too nice for real life? The walk might make me think so, but this story I tell today is exactly the way it really is. If you tend to doubt me, remember the trail’s name: Harmony Headlands. I am at the apex of agreement between Mother Nature and me.

Harmony, California. The town itself may have been bought and sold and bought again. But the beauty here is a time-worn possession of Mother Nature. And now that I have seen it myself, I know that it is real. I’m a believer.


Please join the Monday Walk with RestlessJo and friends:

Jo’s Monday walk

25 Replies to “Walking Harmony Headlands”

    1. Janis – I hear it will be closed for an entire year. Terrible loss to the businesses that rely on the summer run along The Pacific Coast Highway. Harmony is just south of #46, the cut-off to 101, driving north. With the tease of that name, I have always been curious. There’s a really good deli there 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am so happy to read this! I have longed to do this very walk – and I think my husband and I did start out once, but turned back, because it was a hot day and we realized we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the full experience – and we certainly wanted the unhurried refreshment at the coast. Now you have convinced me that “next time” I drive through here I am going to make provision for a proper excursion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you stopped by. Harmony Headlands is a pretty simple walk, and you can stop along the way, but you are right about the heat. It can be surprising. But then, you get to the top and that glorious sea air revives you. Hope you come back soon 🙂


  2. I’m singing along to I’m a Believer 🙂 🙂 Apologies for my late arrival here but I only got back late Thursday, my Inbox is full to overbrimming, and I’ve been really busy since my return. I love the lyricism of your writing. It was in the mid 30s the last few days of my Algarve stay and that still warm wind was a blessed relief. Many thanks for your company, and your contentment with your landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RJo – It’s so much fun that you and I were singing the same song.
      Ouch! That kind of heat can bake away your energy, even with a breeze.
      Feeling is mutual, RJo, when your stuff comes into my Reader, it’s always a must-read, and always so pleasurable 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Can anyone “own” a concept, such as “harmony”. For that matter, is out beliefs about ownership mearly a concept fit for our sense of possession and exclusivity? Nice that the folks in Harmony let you walk about. Stop in the shops and support the cause. -Cuz O
    P.S. Go Gorda, a bit further up the coast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cuz – fortunately, this Harmony is more than just an idea 🙂 Can’t get to Gorda from here right now, unless we take the 101, which we don’t because we’re lazy. That silly Pacific Coast Highway caved in from a rockslide and no one can fix it. Better to flee to the mountains like you did!

      Liked by 1 person

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