Montaña de Oro State Park located 6 miles southwest of Morro Bay California. Click here for a map. The park is rather large with a vast trail system but my favorite trail is the Bluff Trail. The Bluff Trail gives you the best of the rocky California coastline and California vegetation. To get to the Bluff Trail take U.S. 101 in San Luis Obispo, take the Los Osos exit and head west on Los Osos Valley Rd to the Montaña de Oro entrance. Continue about 2.5 miles to a small parking area just beyond the visitors center. There you will see a small sign for the Bluff Trail. This trail is about a 3 mile loop but it's an easy hike along the coast. In February, March and April the poppies and wild flowers are out. My first trip there I was able to see whales surfacing in the distance. I have also seen red tail hawks, falcons, rabbits, little lizards, and many other species of birds and wildlife. It has beaches and picnic areas throughout the park for the family, and plenty of photographic subjects. It's a very peaceful, beautiful place.
The Bluff trail itself follows the coastline from an elevated position. There are a few spots you can take the trail down to the beach but most of it is along the rocky cliffs. They do have warning signs posted along the trail with some wooden guard rails to keep you from falling from the 50' plus cliffs, but mostly it's open so do take caution.
As for photographic gear I recommend a tripod for the evening light, along with a split grad ND filter. I bring all my lenses because one minute you could be taking wide-angle ocean landscapes then have to get out the telephoto just to see whales surfacing or Hawks catching their prey. I would rather take my full backpack of gear than miss a special moment. As I said there are plenty of photographic subjects so come prepared.
Of all my time here on the Central Coast this is the park I visit the most, and Did I mention it's free! Yup a park with lots of wonderful scenery, wildlife, and flowers is all free. On the coast it sometimes will be windy and a bit brisk so bring an extra jacket for the sunset but over all it's my favorite central coast park.