Roger "Chopper" Lyon Legacy Tour

The Roger “Chopper” Lyon Land Conservation Legacy

In the early 90’s the community of Cayucos set a precedent for land conservation on the Central Coast by successfully back zoning The Estero Bluffs to its original agricultural zoning, resulting in miles of natural coastal trails and tide pools that are now accessible to the public forever.

For the full story click here. (The Little Town that Could)

Thanks to the vision and dedication of Roger “Chopper” Lyon, land conservation from Cayucos to the northern boundary of Hearst Ranch is preserved. The preservation of this land took a leader with knowledge and commitment alongside a willing and charged community of volunteers years and years to enact effective conservation. These changes created viewsheds for future generations and millions of visitors to enjoy.

The Estero Bluffs was the first of many land conservation projects that “Chopper” dedicated his life to, making a difference on the Central Coast creating Open Space Forever.

We invite you and your family to enjoy The Roger “Chopper” Lyon Land Conservation Legacy Tour — 9 beautiful scenic sites, 8 of which are protected coastal sites that are available to public. The 9th Site which demonstrates vast visual scenic beauty at its very best is currently unprotected without the help of Cayucos lovers like you. Because the job will never be finished, commitment from you and others is paramount to ensuring these Central Coast viewsheds are open to all forever. You make a difference.



- SITE 1 -

Estero Bluffs at San Geronimo Creek


This spectacular 4-mile coastal bench adjoining the town of Cayucos was purchased in the 1970’s by a group of investors who rezoned the ranch land from Agriculture to Multi Use /Recreation/Residential zoning with a promise to develop water for the town. The residents believed it was a done deal and did not know there was a way to stop the development

Upon seeing an announcement of a meeting to discuss the approved project, Roger Lyon, a land use attorney, acting as a “Cayucan,” spearheaded a band of local citizens and consequently led a revitalized Cayucos Citizens Advisory Council in a 5-year, contentious but yes, ultimately victorious battle resulting in a historic “back zoning” of the property, returning the land to agricultural use. This act was a first in California.

While standing on the bluffs, you can turn around and enjoy the view of San Geronimo Creek Ranch, 2 miles of open ranch land (900 acres). The owner-rancher wanted to preserve and keep the Inland backdrop to the Estero Bluffs ranch intact. He felt a conservation easement was the best way to continue ranching by selling the development potential for all time.  A Win/Win for the property owner and for the public view shed. This land is view only and not open to the public.


- SITE 2 -

Fig Tree

Located only half a mile north of San Geronimo Creek is the Fig Tree parking lot where you can enjoy expansive ocean views to the north and south. This is nature at its finest, there are no public facility on this land, and no dogs allowed. Pack it in, pack it out.


- SITE 3 -

Villa Creek

Continuing along Highway 1 North, just south of Villa Creek, on the northern end of the Estero Bluff property, you’ll find a small parking lot and short walking trail to the beach. Be mindful that the endangered Snowy Plovers seasonally nest here, so please no pets on the trail.


- SITE 4 -

Harmony Headlands

Years ago, Harmony Headlands was purchased by State Parks and closed to the public with absolutely no future of providing public access. Roger Lyon had the opportunity to open discussions with the State Parks Commission during an annual tour of Estero Bluffs, Harmony Headlands and Hearst Ranch.  Representing the Cayucos Land Conservancy and Hearst Ranch.

Roger was able to convince the Commission to allow the Cayucos Land Conservancy and local businesses to perform the needed work to open the park at a fraction of the cost.

This mile and a half hike begins on the edge of of Highway 1 and winds through the grasslands to the ocean. Beginner hikers welcome. There are no facilities so remember to pack food and water. State Parks has taken the lead in running the Ambassador Program, volunteers are always needed. For more information visit


- SITE 5 -

San Simeon Cove

Located directly across the highway from the entrance to Hearst Castle, this gorgeous beach cove is forever part of the Hearst Ranch Conservation. This Conservation Easement leaps “Out of the Headlines and into History” and brings to life 82,000 acres of unspoiled privately-owned California Ranch land.

For over 40 years, Hearst Ranch had approved development plans on the books. Year after year active coastal residents fought these plans when they would surface. Roger had been involved with ranch operations since the mid 1980’s. In the 1990‘s, Steve Hearst took over ranch management oversight and in 1999 met with Roger to discuss the ranch’s future. They came up with the idea of a Conservation Easement.

Using the success of the Estero Bluffs as a small template, they and a huge support network were successful in protecting the ranch for all time.  The inland ranch is in private ownership.  The monitored stewardship protects both wildlife and scenic views that residents and tourists alike will enjoy forever.  The easement also added 15 miles of coastal bluffs to the California Coastal Trail. Roger was confident this process would take “no more than 2 ½ years” but the easement actually took 6 years of effort 24-7.  The project was all encompassing and worth the toil.  This process took the efforts of the entire community, the State of California, Cal Trans and many agencies.

Thanks to Steve Hearst, his family and the corporation for their stewardship in preserving this paradise for all time.


- SITE 6 -

Vista Point 2

This turnout area west of the highway is part of a technical transaction that occurred between Caltrans and Hearst Ranch. The turnout is owned by Caltrans and managed by DPR. To the east you'll see Hearst Ranch. From this location, you get a nice view of San Simeon Point to the south which Hearst has kept as well the BLM property to the far north. The Vista Point 2 turnout is definitely a visual example that illustrates how tricky it was to bring the “Hearst Ranch Conservation Easement” to life, meeting all the needs of the different entities.


- SITE 7 & 8 -

Friends of the Elephant Seals

This family friendly and educational stop on the tour is a must visit! Docents onsite will share stories and teach about these protected marine mammals that visit our coastline to breed each winter. The North and South turnouts will lead you to well groomed pathways and access to viewing the elephant seals. Please park in the parking lot as it is dangerous and illegal to park along the highway.


- SITE 9 -

Vision Turn Out 46

Located 4 miles eastward on Highway 46, Vision Turn Out is a lookout that demonstrates the value of Open Space, A Story That needs no words. But a view that still needs protection.


The Future

Because the job will never be finished, commitment from You and Others is paramount to ensuring these Legacy Tour Central Coast viewsheds are open to all forever.  Cayucos Land Conservancy needs your help to finish the Green belt around town.

How can you help the places on the tour?

Become a Member, Become a Volunteer, Donate Money. Click on the website that speaks to you and find out how you can help. Volunteer for special projects  and help finish the green belt around town.


Cayucos Land Conservancy

Donate to the Cayucos Land Conservancy who is raising money to purchase hillside antiquated sub-division parcels from willing sellers!

Become a member of CLC
Volunteer for special projects

Friends of the Elephant Seals

Become a member of FES
Volunteer to be a docent

California State Parks

Become a member 
Volunteer to be a docent or Ambassador