Hikes in San Luis Obispo County

Below is a collection of trails around San Luis Obispo, California. These hikes are listed roughly from west to east and north to south, but the table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you pick your next hike. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, GPS maps, directions, and all other information needed to locate and enjoy these hikes. You can also view hikes around San Luis Obispo County on the Hike Finder Map.

Highlights of San Luis Obispo County

  • This 3.7-mile hike summits a 1,347-foot peak in Montaña de Oro State Park with panoramic coastal views.
  • This 3.5-mile hike summits the tallest of the Nine Sisters for excellent views over San Luis Obispo.
  • This easy hike explores tide pools, beaches, and impressive cliffs on the picturesque coast of Montaña de Oro State Park.
  • This gradual 4.5-mile lollipop loop in Harmony Headlands State Park crosses a coastal valley to reach picturesque ocean bluffs on the rugged coast between Cayucos and Cambria.
  • This 5.35-mile semi-loop bags a panoramic 2,624-foot summit in the Santa Lucia Mountains, along with a scenic ridge south of the peak.
  • This level 1 to 3.5-mile stroll starts from Coisters Park and crosses Morro Strand State Beach to reach Morro Rock.
  • This tough 2.5-mile hike summits the highest mountain in Morro Bay State Park, a 911-foot member of the Nine Sisters.
  • This 6-mile hike in Montaña de Oro State Park ascends coastal ridges to a 1,076-foot summit with panoramic views that include a dynamic perspective of Morro Bay.
  • This 2.5-mile lollipop loop hike visits an architectural village designed by Cal Poly students at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
  • This 6-mile hike crosses a ridge in the Santa Lucia Mountains with panoramic views over San Luis Obispo and ascends to a grove of Sargent cypress in a botanical area in Los Padres National Forest.
  • This 1.5-mile hike visits the top of a cluster of hills near downtown San Luis Obispo, offering fine views over the city and surroundings.
  • This 0.5-mile hike descends to a natural rock bridge at the end of a headland east of Avila Beach.
  • This 2.85-mile hike crosses a boardwalk along a charming Cambria beach in Hearst San Simeon State Park.
  • This scenic 5-mile point-to-point hike connects Johnson Ranch Open Space with Irish Hills Natural Reserve.

San Luis Obispo County Hiking

San Luis Obispo, California is becoming known as the happiest place in America. The beautiful beaches, bustling downtown, and bountiful wineries are often credited with inspiring the mirth, but the great hiking trails must have something to do with it too.

San Luis Obispo is famous for the Nine Sisters, or Morros, a stunning string of volcanic peaks stretching from Morro Bay across San Luis Obispo. There are hiking trails on five of the Nine Sisters: Black Hill, Cerro Cabrillo, Bishop Peak, Cerro San Luis, and Islay Hill (and you can take a walk up the beach to Morro Rock). Bishop Peak is the tallest of the Morros at 1,559 feet, and is a must-do hike for anyone in the region. There are several other places to hike around San Luis Obispo, including Montaña de Oro State Park and Morro Bay State Park, two gems on the California coast.

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
Point Piedras Blancas075Piedras Blancas
This out and back hike ventures up the coast from the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery to Piedras Blancas Light Station.
3.2 - 4.2 miles
25 feet
35.664401,
-121.262713
Moonstone Beach Boardwalk085Moonstone Beach Boardwalk
This out and back hike crosses a boardwalk along a charming Cambria beach in Hearst San Simeon State Park.
2.85 miles
40 feet
35.569,
-121.105867
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Bluff Trail086Bluff Trail (in Fiscalini Ranch Preserve)
This easy stroll crosses beautiful undeveloped coastline at the center of Cambria.
1.85 - 1.9 miles
50 - 80 feet
35.55613,
-121.1024
Harmony Headlands Trail088Headlands Trail
This gradual lollipop loop in Harmony Headlands State Park crosses a coastal valley to reach picturesque ocean bluffs on the rugged coast between Cayucos and Cambria.
4.5 miles
135 feet
35.477783,
-120.992263
Cerro Alto090Cerro Alto
This semi-loop bags the 2,624-foot summit of Cerro Alto, plus a scenic ridge south of the peak.
5.35 miles
1,600 feet
35.424271,
-120.738988
Morro Rock095Morro Rock via Morro Strand Trail
This level stroll starts from Coisters Park and crosses Morro Strand State Beach to reach Morro Rock.
1 - 3.5 miles
25 feet
35.38898,
-120.860108
Black Hill Trail098Black Hill
This out and back hike to the summit of one of the Nine Sisters reaches 360-degree views over Morro Bay.
0.6 miles
175 feet
35.358059,
-120.833378
Turtle Rock100Turtle Rock
This easy out and back hike reaches a short rise between Black Hill and Cerro Cabrillo in Morro Bay State Park.
2.1 miles
200 feet
35.346512,
-120.825198
Cerro Cabrillo115Cerro Cabrillo
This tough out and back hike summits the highest mountain in Morro Bay State Park, a 911-foot member of the Nine Sisters.
2.5 miles
900 feet
35.346512,
-120.825198
Portola Point120Portola Point
This loop explores a short hill in Morro Bay State Park just east of Morro Estuary with an easy-to-reach ocean overlook.
2 miles
315 feet
35.346512,
-120.825198
Eagle Rock Nature Trail125Eagle Rock Nature Trail
This loop in El Chorro Regional Park climbs to Eagle Rock Viewpoint for an overview of the valley between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.
2.4 miles
450 feet
35.33567,
-120.727234
Elfin Forest130Elfin Forest Natural Reserve
This easy boardwalk loop explores a pygmy forest on the edge of Morro Bay.
1 mile
80 feet
35.331678,
-120.82539
Morro Dunes135Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve
This lollipop loop serves up panoramic views over Morro Bay as it climbs from Los Osos to Montaña de Oro State Park.
2.6 miles
800 feet
35.308454,
-120.843157
Los Osos Oaks140Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve
This short hikes explores a pygmy forest of coast live oaks, providing a shady level stroll on overlapping loops.
0.75 - 1.5 miles
25 feet
35.306274,
-120.813509
Hazard Canyon Reef145Hazard Canyon Reef
This short hike in Montaña de Oro State Park descends an oceanfront ravine to a rocky shoreline graced with engaging tide pools.
1 mile
100 feet
35.285512,
-120.881105
Hazard Peak150Hazard Peak Trail
This out and back hike in Montaña de Oro State Park ascends coastal ridges to a 1,076-foot summit with panoramic views that include a dynamic perspective of Morro Bay.
6 miles
1,025 feet
35.277106,
-120.884546
Hazard Peak Loop155Hazard Peak - Islay Creek Loop
This loop in Montaña de Oro State Park continues beyond Hazard Peak deeper into the Irish Hills before circling back to the coast on Islay Creek Trail.
9.2 miles
1,325 feet
35.277106,
-120.884546
Islay Creek160Islay Creek Trail
This easy out and back hike in Montaña de Oro State Park follows a wide trail up a coastal canyon flanked by thousand-foot peaks, passing a small waterfall to reach an abandoned barn.
6 miles
300 feet
35.276412,
-120.885504
Reservoir Flats Trail Montana de Oro164Reservoir Flats Trail
This loop delivers fine ocean and canyon views as it explores the bottom of Islay Creek Canyon in Montaña de Oro State Park.
2 miles
200 feet
35.273872,
-120.88553
Oats Peak Hike167Oats Peak
This out and back hike reaches a panoramic summit that looks down over Montaña de Oro State Park.
8.25 miles
1,325 feet
35.273872,
-120.88553
Valencia Peak170Valencia Peak
This out and back hike summits a 1,347-foot peak with panoramic views over Montaña de Oro State Park.
3.7 miles
1,275 feet
35.272858,
-120.888755
Bluff Trail180Bluff Trail (in Montaña de Oro State Park)
This out and back hike of around three miles tours tide pools, beaches, and impressive cliffs along a picturesque coastline.
1 - 5 miles
90 - 140 feet
35.272858,
-120.888755
Coon Creek Trail188Coon Creek Trail
This out and back hike ventures up a coastal canyon at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park.
5 miles
250 feet
35.257927,
-120.886988
Point Buchon190Point Buchon
This short scenic loop or longer out-and-back hike explores the beautiful coastline south of Montaña de Oro State Park.
1.33 - 6.8 miles
75 feet
35.257964,
-120.887483
West Cuesta Ridge193Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area
This out and back hike crosses a ridge in the Santa Lucia Mountains with panoramic views over San Luis Obispo, ascending to a grove of Sargent cypress in a botanical area in Los Padres National Forest.
6 miles
950 feet
35.347125,
-120.63045
Stenner Creek Trail The Eucs195Stenner Creek Trail to The Eucs
This out and back hike goes up Stenner Creek Canyon past a small waterfall and views of Bishop Peak to a collection of freeride bike trails called The Eucs.
3.7 miles
650 feet
35.330159,
-120.663081
Cal Poly Design Village200Poly Canyon Design Village
This lollipop loop hike visits an architectural village designed by Cal Poly students at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
2.5 miles
300 feet
35.304484,
-120.658447
Felsman Loop Trail208Felsman Loop Trail
This loop crosses oak, sagebrush, and grass-covered slopes around the base of Bishop Peak, providing excellent views of that notable rocky summit and its San Luis Obispo surroundings.
2.7 miles
525 feet
35.304331,
-120.685438
Bishop Peak210Bishop Peak
This out and back hike summits the tallest of the Nine Sisters for excellent views over San Luis Obispo.
3.5 miles
950 feet
35.304331,
-120.685438
Reservoir Canyon220Reservoir Canyon Trail
This steep hike passes a waterfall and a collection of junk sculptures en route to a treeless summit overlooking San Luis Obispo.
5.35 miles
1,350 feet
35.290749,
-120.627751
Lemon Grove Trail230Lemon Grove Trail
This easy loop visits a historic lemon grove on the eastern slopes of Cerro San Luis.
2.2 miles
300 feet
35.274897,
-120.672369
Cerro San Luis240Cerro San Luis
This hike summits one of the Nine Sisters just west of downtown San Luis Obispo.
4 - 5 miles
1,100 feet
35.274897,
-120.672369
M Trail on Cerro San Luis250"M" Trail
This spur off the trail up Cerro San Luis leads to a large white "M" installed halfway up the east side of the mountain.
1.9 miles
560 feet
35.274897,
-120.672369
Cerro San Luis Laguna Lake255Cerro San Luis from Laguna Lake Park
This out and back hike summits one of the Nine Sisters just west of downtown San Luis Obispo.
5.7 miles
1,150 feet
35.265209,
-120.682739
Murray Hill260Sydney Street Trail to Murray Hill (Unnamed Hill)
This out and back hike climbs a steep rugged trail to a stone seating area at a panoramic summit.
2.8 miles
1,275 feet
35.27307,
-120.641322
South Hills270South Hills Ridge Trail
This out and back hike visits the top of a cluster of hills near downtown San Luis Obispo, offering fine views over the city and surroundings.
1.5 miles
450 feet
35.260149,
-120.657535
Morro View280Morro View in the Irish Hills
This out and back hike in Irish Hills Natural Reserve delivers panoramic views over Los Osos Valley and the full chain of Morros.
3.15 miles
850 feet
35.262195,
-120.711949
Froom Creek290Froom Creek Trail Loop in the Irish Hills
This loop explores a canyon on the east side of the Irish Hills before ascending to a nice view over Laguna Lake, Cerro San Luis, and Bishop Peak.
3 miles
500 feet
35.254311,
-120.69525
Old Prospector Trail295Old Prospector Trail Loop in the Irish Hills
This lollipop loop hike ventures up a rugged ravine off Froom Canyon to the ruins of an old mine.
3.4 - 4.4 miles
650 feet
35.254311,
-120.69525
Islay Hill300Islay Hill
This out and back hike summits San Luis Obispo's easternmost Morro.
1.8 miles
550 feet
35.243296,
-120.627131
Johnson Ranch Irish Hills San Luis Obispo308Johnson Ranch - Irish Hills Connector Trail
This scenic point-to-point hike connects Johnson Ranch Open Space with Irish Hills Natural Reserve.
5 - 10 miles
575 feet
35.223448,
-120.693313
Johnson Ranch310Johnson Ranch Loop
This loop explores rolling hills in a grassy open space just south of San Luis Obispo.
2.5 - 3.7 miles
200 feet
35.223448,
-120.693313
Bob Jones Trail320Bob Jones Bike Trail
This easy round trip hike or ride follows San Luis Obispo Creek to Avila Beach.
5 miles
50 feet
35.185651,
-120.703016
Sycamore Crest Trail330Sycamore Crest Trail
This out and back hike ascends the north slope of Ontario Hill to a scenic ocean view perch.
1.75 - 3.25 miles
575 feet
35.18595,
-120.714558
Shell Beach Bluff Trail340Shell Beach Bluff Trail - Ontario Ridge Trail
This loop explores the coast between Shell Beach and Avila Beach, on and below a 700-foot ridge.
2.8 miles
675 feet
35.176427,
-120.719601
Cave Landing350Cave Landing
This short out and back hike descends to a natural rock bridge at the end of a headland east of Avila Beach.
0.5 miles
100 feet
35.17425,
-120.717187
Point San Luis Lighthouse355Point San Luis Lighthouse via Pecho Coast Trail
This docent-led hike crosses scenic coastal bluffs to reach the historic lighthouse on Point San Luis.
3.5 miles
300 feet
35.174146,
-120.756013
Hi Mountain Trail370Hi Mountain Trail
This short trail goes through many phases as it explores the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Arroyo Grande and combines with part of Hi Mountain Road to form a loop.
3.25 miles
575 feet
35.2075,
-120.38237

San Luis Obispo County Camping

There are several places to camp around San Luis Obispo, including this pair of developed campground.

San Luis Obispo hikesCerro Alto Campground
This cozy 22-site campground is the starting point the hike to Cerro Alto and a perfect place to tent camp in the Los Padres National Forest between Morro Bay and Atascadero.
San Luis Obispo hikesIslay Creek Campground
This 50-site campground is located at the heart of Montaña de Oro State Park in Islay Creek Canyon near the coast and several park trails.

 

View Central Coast trails and campgrounds in a larger map
Or explore hikes around San Luis Obispo County on the Hike Finder Map
hikespeak
M Trail Cerro San Luis Madonna Mountain Hike to the M Cerro San Luis Obispo California
From downtown San Luis Obispo, it's easy to spot the large white "M" on the side of nearest mountain, Cerro San Luis. If you've looked up at the "M," you may have wondered what it's like to look down from that big white letter. Find out on a 1.9-mile hike that goes right up to the "M". You can also visit the Mission Prep High School "M" as part of a longer hike to the... Read more.
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Distance: 1.9 miles – Elevation change: 560 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: June 9, 2015
Hi Mountain Trail Hike San Luis Obispo County Hi Mountain Road Arroyo Grande
Hi Mountain Trail is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Lopez Lake. The San Luis Obispo County-run trail is quite different from the area's coastal hikes and covers a variety of environments in a short distance. Start with a nice-and-easy streamside trail through a dense woodland. Bust up a ridge and suddenly you're in a grassy landscape with panoramic views. ... Read more.
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Distance: 3.25 miles – Elevation change: 575 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: June 8, 2015
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Bluff Trail Cambria Marine Terrace Trail East West Ranch San Luis Obispo County California central coast hike
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (previously called East West Ranch) is a 434-acre park right in the middle of Cambria, a coastal town at the north end of San Luis Obispo County. Bordered by neighborhoods to the north and south, the preserve provides public access to a mile of beautiful coastline spared from development except for trails with boardwalks, bridges, and whimsical... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: June 7, 2015
Old Prospector Trail Pond Trail Loop Irish Hills Natural Area San Luis Obispo Prospector Hill Hike
Today the Irish Hills are like a gold mine for hikers, but the small mountain range in San Luis Obispo historically hosted several mines for chromium and mercury. The ruins of one of these mines can be visited on Old Prospector Trail, which opened in 2015 to join the growing group of trails in Irish Hills Natural Reserve. This hikers-only single track starts in Froom... Read more.
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Distance: 4.4 miles – Elevation change: 650 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: March 18, 2015
Visit Montaña de Oro State Park Hiking Trails San Luis Obispo California
Montaña de Oro State Park has dramatic ocean bluffs and summits with sweeping views. The park covers over 8,000 acres and has 7 miles of undeveloped coastline, making it a rare treasure on the California Coast. There is one road into the park, entering from the north from the town of Los Osos, which is just west of the city of San Luis Obispo. For those staying... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: May 30, 2015