Instead of the usual fiction book review, I thought it might be fun to review one of the essential guide books to hiking and exploring SLO county: Day Hikes Around San Luis Obispo by Robert Stone.
My mom gave this guide book to me when I first moved here and it’s been such a great guide to hiking in the area. Jeff and I are big hikers and love being outdoors. I basically grew up at our cabin by Mt. Lassen in northern California, and Jeff and I still try to go backpacking in Yosemite once a year. So of course, when she first gave this book about hiking in SLO to me, I immediately went through and highlighted all of the trails I wanted to explore.
Unfortunately, I was just searching through the book again and there will be a lot we never get the opportunity to hike and experience, but hopefully that’s just yet another excuse to come back some day!
The book has 128 day hikes, so I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites that I have done and some of the ones I hope to do in the future. Sound good? Ok, then let’s get started!
This was the hike that Jeff and I did in Morro Bay one afternoon where I’m still not completely sure that we ever actually found the right trail, but at least we made it to the top! According to the book, the trail is about 2.6 miles round trip, but I think Jeff and I ended up walking at least a mile more than that. It was definitely worth it for the views at the top–though isn’t it always?
The Valencia Peak trail is a hike in one of my absolute favorite places in the area–Montana de Oro State Park. Jeff and I timed this hike horribly. It was completely foggy by the time we got to the top of the peak and we couldn’t see a gosh darn thing! Plus, on the way down, we almost stepped on the biggest snake I’ve ever seen and when we decided to take a short cut, ended up in a field of poison oak. This hike is definitely on the needs-to-be-repeated list!
Also in Montana de Oro State Park, this is my favorite place for a mellow walk/hike in the area. 3.5 miles of ocean views, wildlife, and just all around gorgeous scenery. Definitely a quintessential California hike.
The Cal Poly campus backs right up to Poly Canyon and when I lived on campus, I used to run here all of the time. I’ve never actually done the entire loop–about 5.5 miles round trip–but know many people who used to run it daily. Also, The Poly Canyon Design Village, a collection of “artistic, futuristic, and sometimes humorous monuments from the architectural and engineering departments of Cal Poly” is just 1.5 miles out from the start of the trail and a fun place to explore.
This is the hike that almost everyone does during WOW or “Week of Welcome” week their freshman year at Cal Poly. The trail is pretty steep with a 900 foot elevation gain in 2.5 miles (it’s 4.5 miles round trip) but the sweeping views of the city make up for the climb. The first time Jeff and I climbed up, we went in the late afternoon and forgot to bring a flashlight for the walk home–not fun when there was a mountain lion sighting on the way up!
East Cuesta Ridge
The next 3 hikes are hikes I highlighted in my book, but we never got around to doing. The East Cuesta Ridge hike is a 7-14 round mile hike. The trail entrance is at the top of the grade as you’re heading north on 101 from SLO towards Paso Robles and “offers a unique vantage point for fantastic views of San Luis Obispo.” Next time!
I know many people who have done this hike, but for some reason, Jeff and I just never made it out there. This trail takes off in the Lopez Lake area and “follows Big Falls Creek up the wooded canyon, crossing and recrossing the creek. Along the way is Lower Big Falls, an impressive 40-foot double waterfall over limestone rock. At the top and base of this lower falls are beautiful pools.” I still have a hard time believing we missed out on this one!
Anza National Historic Trail
This is a north county hike that “follows a portion of the original route led by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776…The trail winds through strands of cottonwoods, oaks, sycamores, and willows, parallel to the southern banks of the Salinas river.” The California missions are a big part of our history around here, and I thought it would be fun to retrace the steps that such an influential historical person took in our area.
If you’re looking for a hiking guide to the area, I highly recommend looking at Day Hikes Around San Luis Obispo by Robert Stone–it’s been a great companion to use over the years we’ve lived year and hopefully will be again one day!