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The Elfin Forest

The El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area is about 90 acres in size and located in Los Osos on the southeastern shore of Morro Bay. The name "Elfin Forest" comes from the short stature of the California Live Oaks, which grow as tall as 50 feet elsewhere in Los Osos. Here they are stunted by the local environment, and despite being centuries old, range from a high of 20 feet in sheltered areas to a low of 4 feet near the tallest ridge line.

Boardwalk with two elves

Boardwalk in Elfin Forest

The Elfin Forest is an area where many of the natural habitats of the greater Morro Bay area exist in one location with easy access. Many of the area's terrestrial plants and animals can be seen here.

In this compact preserve you can see 8 distinct environment types, each with its own cast of flora and fauna:

  • Coastal Dune Scrub
  • Maritime Chaparral
  • Coastal Live Oak Woodland
  • Oak/Manzanita Complex
  • Riparian Woodland
  • Brackish Water Marsh
  • Coastal Salt Marsh
  • And if the tide is in Estuary Waters and if it's out Estuary Mud
  Ecology   This section contains a map showing the location of each environmental area. It also explains a bit of why the areas differ in flora and fauna.
  History   This page explains a bit of how the area came to be what it is today in terms of natural and cultural history.
  Saving   This page details why you see a nature preserve at the Elfin Forest rather than a bunch of expensive houses with a great view.