Islay Creek Trail Montaña de Oro State Park hike

There are a couple lengthy level hikes in Montaña de Oro State Park. If you desire ocean views, you can’t do any better than the Bluff Trail. If you would rather hike up a canyon flanked by thousand foot-peaks along a creek that even has a small waterfall, the fitting trail is Islay Creek Trail. The rolling 3-mile long dirt road has 300-feet of easy elevation change. Just before the trail ends at the eastern boundary of Montaña de Oro State Park, you will come across an abandoned barn that makes a good turn around point for a 6-mile round trip hike.

The trail start at the bottom of Islay Creek Canyon, where the stream meets the sea at Spooner’s Cove. Looking across the mouth of the canyon, you’ll spot the park visitor center inside the old Spooner’s Ranch House.

Montaña de Oro Spooner's Cove
Spooner’s Cove from the start of Islay Creek Trail

Head inland up the wide dirt trail, leaving the ocean behind. You’ll notice a long carpet of sycamores covering Islay Creek in the canyon below the road. On the opposite bank is the park’s campground, and above the south bank of the canyon is the pyramid-shaped summit of Valencia Peak. As the trail progresses inland, you’ll get a view of one of the park’s other major peaks, Hazard Peak, just north of the canyon.

After 1.1 gradual miles curving along the north side of the canyon, you’ll pass a junction with a connector trail to Reservoir Flats Trail. Stick with the wide main road and continue up Islay Creek Canyon. After another quarter mile, you’ll spot a short waterfall in the creek below.

Montaña de Oro Islay Creek Trail Waterfall
A waterfall on Islay Creek

The trail continues an eastward course up the canyon just above the creek. About halfway between the coast and the barn, Islay Creek Trail turns temporarily downhill, before renewing its gradual ascent. As you climb again, Islay Creek Canyon widens to allow broader views of the surrounding mountains.

Montaña de Oro Islay Creek Trail
Looking up Islay Creek Canyon

At 2.85 miles from the start, Islay Creek Trail comes to a junction with Barranca Trail. The single track breaks off to the left heading up a ridge toward a junction with East Boundary Trail. Barranca Trail can be used to form a loop (Hazard Peak – Islay Creek Loop) connecting Hazard Peak Trail and Islay Creek Trail.

Continue through the junction with Barranca Trail and you will quickly arrive at a dilapidated barn with a tin roof. It is unsafe for hikers to enter the old barn. Nevertheless, the landmark makes a suitable turnaround point. Just ahead, the trail reaches a gate at the east boundary of Montaña de Oro State Park where you can hike no farther up Islay Creek Trail.

Islay Creek Trail Barn Montaña de Oro
The old barn along Islay Creek Trail

To the barn and back is 6 miles round trip with 300 feet of elevation gain. Dogs are not allowed on Islay Creek Trail but mountain bikes are. No fee or permit is required to hike in Montaña de Oro State Park, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: From San Luis Obispo, exit Highway 101 at Los Osos Valley Road and drive northwest toward Los Osos. After 11.2 miles, Los Osos Valley Road becomes Pecho Valley Road and turns sharply to the south. Continue the final 3.3 miles, entering Montaña de Oro State Park and passing through a eucalyptus grove before reaching the trailhead for Islay Creek Trail on the left, just after a larger parking area for Hazard Peak Trail and just before Spooner’s Cove.

Trailhead address: Pecho Valley Road, Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos, CA 93402
Trailhead coordinates: 35.276412, -120.885504 (35° 16′ 35.08″N 120° 53′ 07.81″W)

 

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

(Islay Creek Trail is in brown)
View Montaña de Oro State Park in a larger map
Or view a regional map of surrounding Central Coast trails and campgrounds.

Photos

Islay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de OroIslay Creek Trail Montaña de Oro

These photos were taken in December of 2012. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Hazard Peak TrailHazard Peak Trail
This 6-mile round trip hike ascends coastal ridges to a 1,076-foot summit with panoramic views that include a dynamic perspective of Morro Bay.
Hazard Peak Islay Creek Loop TrailHazard Peak – Islay Creek Loop
This 9.2 mile loop continues beyond Hazard Peak deeper into Montana de Oro before circling back on Islay Creek Trail.
Reservoir Flats Trail Montana de OroReservoir Flats Trail
This 2-mile loop delivers fine ocean and canyon views as it explores the bottom of Islay Creek Canyon in Montaña de Oro State Park.
Oats Peak HikeOats Peak Trail
This scenic 10.8-mile hike ventures into Montaña de Oro State Park to a panoramic summit.
Valencia Peak TrailValencia Peak Trail
This 4.5-mile hike summits a 1,347-foot peak with stunning views over Montaña de Oro.
Montaña de Oro Trail Bluff Trail
This hike of around three miles tours tide pools, beaches, and impressive cliffs along the picturesque coast of Montaña de Oro State Park.
Montaña de Oro Badger TrailRattlesnake Flats Trail – Badger Trail – Bluff Trail Loop
This 1 2/3-mile hike offers a twist on the Bluff Trail, going along and just above the coast of Montaña de Oro State Park.
Hazard Canyon DunesDune Trail to Hazard Canyon Reef
This one-mile hike in Montaña de Oro State Park descends an oceanfront ravine to a rocky shoreline graced with engaging tide pools.
Coon Creek TrailCoon Creek Trail
This 5-mile out and back hike ventures up a coastal canyon at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park.
Point Buchon TrailPoint Buchon Trail
This 1 1/3 to 6.8-mile hike explores the beautiful coastline south of Montaña de Oro State Park.
Los Osos Dunes Ecological Reserve HikeMorro Dunes Ecological Reserve
This 2.6-mile loop serves up panoramic views over Morro Bay as it ascends 800 feet from Los Osos to Montaña de Oro State Park.
San Luis Obispo hikesMore hikes in San Luis Obispo
Explore other trails around San Luis Obispo including Morro Bay State Park and the Morros.
Nearby Camping
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, and is a great base camp for treks in the park.

One Comment on Islay Creek in Montaña de Oro State Park

  1. Ned Quackenbush says:

    What is the name of the ranch that lies South of the park beyond the locked gate?
    Who owns the large two story wooden house in the trees beyond the southerly locked gate and for what is it used?
    Ned

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *