Hikes in San Luis Obispo County
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. Five of the Nine Sisters have hiking trails: 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.
San Luis Obispo County Hiking
These trails around San Luis Obispo, California are listed roughly from west to east and north to south. The table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you pick your next hike. Each hike links to its own report complete with photos, GPS maps, elevation profile, driving directions, and any other information needed to locate and enjoy these hikes. You can also view hikes around San Luis Obispo County on the Hike Finder Map.
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|
|085||Moonstone Beach Boardwalk|
This out and back hike crosses a boardwalk along a charming Cambria beach in Hearst San Simeon State Park.
|086||Bluff 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
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.
This semi-loop bags the 2,624-foot summit of Cerro Alto, plus a scenic ridge south of the peak.
|095||Morro Rock via Morro Strand Trail|
This level stroll starts from Cloisters Park and crosses Morro Strand State Beach to reach Morro Rock.
|1 - 3.5 miles|
This out and back hike to the summit of one of the Nine Sisters reaches 360-degree views over Morro Bay.
This easy out and back hike reaches a short rise between Black Hill and Cerro Cabrillo in Morro Bay State Park.
This tough out and back hike summits the highest mountain in Morro Bay State Park, a 911-foot member of the Nine Sisters.
This loop explores a short hill in Morro Bay State Park just east of Morro Estuary with an easy-to-reach ocean overlook.
|122||Chumash & Crespi Trails Loop|
This hike in Morro Bay State Park visits an oak grove and bay views by combining Chumash Trail, Crespi Trail, and Hutash Trail.
|125||Eagle 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.
|130||Elfin Forest Natural Reserve|
This easy boardwalk loop explores a pygmy forest on the edge of Morro Bay.
|135||Morro 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.
|140||Los 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|
|145||Hazard Canyon Reef|
This short hike in Montaña de Oro State Park descends an oceanfront ravine to a rocky shoreline graced with engaging tide pools.
|150||Hazard 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.
|155||Hazard 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.
|160||Islay 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.
|164||Reservoir 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.
This out and back hike reaches a panoramic summit that looks down over Montaña de Oro State Park.
This out and back hike summits a 1,347-foot peak with panoramic views over Montaña de Oro State Park.
|180||Bluff 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
|182||Rattlesnake Flats Trail – Badger Trail – Bluff Trail Loop|
This loop offers a twist on the Bluff Trail, going along and just above the coast of Montaña de Oro State Park.
|188||Coon Creek Trail|
This out and back hike ventures up a coastal canyon at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park.
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|
|192||East Cuesta Ridge|
This wide dirt road offers out and back hikes to the tops of Mount Lowe and Lopez Canyon Trail, offering ocean views over San Luis Obispo and inland views over an evergreen wilderness.
|8.4 - 10.2 miles|
1,015 - 1,075 feet
|193||Cuesta 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.
|195||Stenner 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.
|196||Stenner Creek Trail – Red Dog Trail – Poly Canyon Road Loop|
This loop goes beyond the Eucs atop Stenner Creek Trail to explore grass-covered slopes at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
|200||Poly Canyon Design Village|
This lollipop loop hike visits an architectural village designed by Cal Poly students at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
|208||Felsman 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.
This out and back hike summits the tallest of the Nine Sisters for excellent views over San Luis Obispo.
|220||Reservoir Canyon Trail|
This steep hike passes a waterfall and a collection of junk sculptures en route to a treeless summit overlooking San Luis Obispo.
|230||Lemon Grove Trail|
This easy loop visits a historic lemon grove on the eastern slopes of Cerro San Luis.
|240||Cerro San Luis|
This hike summits one of the Nine Sisters just west of downtown San Luis Obispo.
|4 - 5 miles|
This spur off the trail up Cerro San Luis leads to a large white "M" installed halfway up the east side of the mountain.
|255||Cerro San Luis from Laguna Lake Park|
This out and back hike summits one of the Nine Sisters just west of downtown San Luis Obispo.
|260||Sydney 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.
This hike tours a flattened mountaintop in the city of San Luis Obispo that hosts panoramic views of the surroundings.
|270||South 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.
|280||Morro 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.
|290||Froom 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.
|295||Old 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|
This out and back hike summits San Luis Obispo's easternmost Morro.
|308||Johnson Ranch - Irish Hills Connector Trail|
This scenic point-to-point hike connects Johnson Ranch Open Space with Irish Hills Natural Reserve.
|5 - 10 miles|
|310||Johnson Ranch Loop|
This loop explores rolling hills in a grassy open space just south of San Luis Obispo.
|2.5 - 3.7 miles|
|315||Hi 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.
|320||Bob Jones Bike Trail|
This easy round trip hike or ride follows San Luis Obispo Creek to Avila Beach.
|330||Sycamore 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|
|340||Shell Beach Bluff Trail - Ontario Ridge Trail|
This loop explores the coast between Shell Beach and Avila Beach, on and below a 700-foot ridge.
This short out and back hike descends to a natural rock bridge at the end of a headland east of Avila Beach.
|355||Point San Luis Lighthouse via Pecho Coast Trail|
This docent-led hike crosses scenic coastal bluffs to reach the historic lighthouse on Point San Luis.
|380||Oso Flaco Lake Trail|
This hike takes a boardwalk over a coastal lake and across sand dunes to an out-of-the-way beach.
|2 miles or more|
San Luis Obispo County Camping
San Luis Obispo also has places to cam, including this pair of developed campground.
|Cerro 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.
|Islay 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.