(David Royal)
EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE DOUGH to blow on shopping, golf and restaurants at Pebble Beach, the natural wonders of the area can be enjoyed at no extra charge, once you're inside the gates — and these million-dollar views are well worth seeing.

Many of these are marked stops along 17 Mile Drive, each with its own little slice of local history to share, here illuminated by Pebble Beach Co. historian Neal Hotelling.

· Shepherd's Knoll, located near the Highway 68 gate, is high enough that from it you can glimpse the curve of Monterey Bay. However, its rustic name has nothing to do with sheep or herding — Hotelling notes that it's a misspelling of the name of a former property manager, A.D. Shepard, who preceded Pebble Beach founder Samuel F.

The Lone Cypress
The Lone Cypress (David Royal)
B. Morse.

· Huckleberry Hill also has lovely views as well as a literary footnote. It's the setting of a John Steinbeck short story, "How Edith McGillicuddy Met R.L.S.," about a little girl's encounter with author Robert Louis Stevenson.

· Nearby Point Joe has several notable stories behind it. In the old days, ships often wrecked here, navigators believing it was the entrance to the bay. Submerged rocks and fickle currents made it a deadly region for the captains and crews.

It's called Point Joe, though, for the man who lived here for many years, and would not leave — even when Morse told him to.

"Joe was either Chinese or native American — I've heard both versions," said Hotelling. "Most believe he was Chinese. He squatted here in a lean-to shack made out of pieces of shipwreck, and made his living fishing."

· Seal Rock and Bird Rock, jutting out of the ocean just 100 yards offshore, give tourists an up-close and personal view of seals, sea lions, seagulls and cormorants as they sun and squabble on their tiny islands. There's a picnic area here as well.

Not far away is the former site of the Bird Rock Hunt Course, used for equestrian hunt and steeplechase competitions in the past.

Tourists gather around telescopes near Bird Rock.
Tourists gather around telescopes near Bird Rock. (David Royal)
The area also was used for riding and saber practice by the 11th Cavalry, with whom Morse had an interesting arrangement.

"Morse needed fertilizer for his golf course, so he contracted with the Army to haul manure from their stables, so he could use it and also it to the residents," said Hotelling.

· Fanshell Beach, another pretty place, is one of three areas in Pebble Beach that are closed to the public during the harbor seals' birthing season, April 1 to June 1. Fencing is erected to protect the seals and their pups during this time at Fanshell and Cypress Point; Stillwater Cove is the other, less accessible area.

· Cypress Point Lookout is another place for a Kodak moment, with the magnificent Del Monte Forest in the background. Here and in adjacent Crocker Grove, you'll see what may be the oldest cypress grove in the world.

"There's an old legend that Chinese brought the cypress here in 500 A.D. in junks, and planted them here," said Hotelling.

· Of course, a trip to Pebble Beach wouldn't be complete without a gander at the Lone Cypress, poised spectacularly on a rocky promontory. It's thought to be the most photographed tree in the world, and of course, is the subject of the Pebble Beach trademark.

Since the time that 17 Mile Drive was opened, the Lone Cypress has been the halfway marker for it. At one time it was known as Midway Point.

No one knows exactly how old the singular tree is, Hotelling said: "We estimate it's over 250 years old.

A kayaker heads out at Stillwater Cove in Pebble Beach.
A kayaker heads out at Stillwater Cove in Pebble Beach. (David Royal)
There's a photo of it from 100 years ago as a mature tree, but it's kind of hard to know."

· Pescadero Point, also an ideal spot for looking out to sea, is the northernmost point of Carmel Bay and Stillwater Cove. Legend has it that there is treasure buried here near a mansion that once belonged to the Crocker family.

· Stillwater Cove has long been a place for millionaires to play. Howard Hughes used to sail his yacht into the cove to visit, play golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links, and socialize with starlets at The Lodge. The inlet continues to be an area for boating, kayaking and scuba diving, although access is limited to a few per day and must be reserved.

· For more information visit

A trail at the top of Huckleberry Hill in Monterey offers views of Pebble Beach.
A trail at the top of Huckleberry Hill in Monterey offers views of Pebble Beach. (David Royal)