Explore the most popular birding trails in Los Padres National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

on Inspiration Point

hiking
1 day ago

I’m a beginner hiker and this trail was perfect for a first hike!

Trail has been devastated by fires and floods. Slowly growing back. We had to take a different track because of washouts. Ended up just hiking up to the hot springs water was flowing into a small pool. More warm than hot. Actually Interesting to see the power of Mother Nature to destroy and rejuvenate.

This was a great starter for small children. The ruins make it feel like an adventure and the views are fantastic.

Not much of a hike but a very cool view.

hiking
14 days ago

Just hiked this trail. Great trail.. The last 1.7 miles is pretty steep climb. Go slow if out shape and you’ll make it to the top of the summit. Slow will take about 2 hours if you do long trail. Coming down very slippery. Bring poles if inexperienced hiker.

It’s hard . Take a lot of water , good shoes and protect your hands. The map little confuse but you will figure out . I would like to that again! It worst it .

off road driving
16 days ago

Beautiful view but the gate was closed and locked very well with private property signs all over the fence. I did not even see a path for bikers or hikers.

Not really a hike but great views.

Did this one starting from the Romero Canyon trailhead a few days ago since I couldn’t find the specific Buena vista trailhead and worked backwards. It was quite the workout! It was beautiful and serene, only saw one person the entire time. Unfortunately, the area where the catway trail meets the buena vista trail is absolutely covered in poison oak and I am pretty susceptible so I just turned around. Luckily I still got to do the majority of it though! Would try again maybe in another season.

Close,Water, and beautiful

We went last week. Lots of vegetation, but the trail disappeared on us, and we didn't get to finish.

Go early to avoid the crowds and noisy party animals that like to hike to the punch bowls to swim, drink and play loud music. Winter is a much more pleasent time to do this hike. I prefer to take the marked trail up to the campground and drop into the bowl, rather the follow the trail shown on the map which turns into a lot of boulder hopping.

It is nice to see the changes occurring after the Thomas Fire, and to see southern California fire ecology at work. Some interesting wildflowers can be see right now (June 24, 2018).

Fun hike

hiking
20 days ago

Great SoCal hike! I started at 5 this morning and was surprised with a foggy path. The hike leads you up a ways and I was able to rise above the fog and see the other ridges peaking out from it. Drive there wasn't an issue at all, even in my little Mazda.

We had to climb the fence to get to the trail so we were a little hesitant at first, but the hike is a dirt road & easy to follow. It's a gradual incline with nice views of San Luis Obispo & even Morro Bay. Went in June & the smell of the wildflowers was very nice! The terrain starts off as dry grass & oak trees but at about 2 miles it changes to pine trees & more of a mountain terrain. It was a nice surprise.

Cold Springs rd. closed and barricaded heading up to the trailhead due to damage from the fire and mudslides. Parked below and attempted to walk 0.3mi to the trail head, but was turned away by a park ranger doing his rounds. Will try back in a few weeks!

Overall a pretty nice hike once you reach the top, about 1.75 miles in. The bees are a little much at times.

hiking
23 days ago

Excellent. A little tiring once you pass the private property water fuel up (I’m in average shape). That stretch and the switchbacks had me zapped! Parts of the trail are pretty narrow, and flowering plants line them (read: bees!). Lots of bees. It was not a problem for me, but if you are allergic, keep this in mind! There’s not a lot of avoiding them.

Views at the top are amazing. Once the trail ends, keep going down the utility road when you see power lines. You’ll see a little sub trail off to the right that leads to inspiration point.

When in doubt, keep going up!

rock climbing
24 days ago

My favorite hike of all time. Very challenging but VERY fun, I have yet to find another like it.

The first time we went on this hike we took the more common route (I think it’s the more common route?) and it started off nicely with plenty of shade but it eventually progressed to a more exposed route. The vegetation is charred from an obvious past fire—really sad. I imagine that before this fire, this route was probably shaded and pleasant. We made it to the first punch bowl after a pretty warm walk. The second time around we started our hike earlier in the AM and we took a different route which was shaded 90% of the way and required lots of scrambling/water crossing—waaaay more fun than our first trip~! But be very careful with slippery rocks and careless climbing. We were hoping that we would make it to a different punch bowl while on the second route but it only led us to the same/main punch bowl. Very fun/active hike if you take the right route but so So Very Sad to see lots of graffiti and trash left behind at the punch bowl(s)~!! Please clean up after yourselves and your pup~!
We will most likely return and try to find the other punch bowls soon~!

hiking
26 days ago

Beautiful trail! Fairly flat up to Mt Pinos, but the trail gets a little more difficult if you want to continue to Sawmill Mountain and Grouse Mountain (which makes it about 10 miles RT).

Best trail in SLO county. Or at least it’s MY favorite hike. Bottom half has lots of shade. Top half is quite a bit more exposed. The views throughout the hike are marvelous and they get better the higher you go.

I love this trail. Not too crowded ever, cool breeze most of the time- incredible views, good, moderately challenging (for someone out of shape) trail.

Went two weeks ago. Started at 10:30 am and came back at 5:30. Of course there were lots of breaks taken a good amount of time spent at the first punch bowls. There isn’t an obvious trail but there are orange and blue markers on the trees and arrows on the rocks. As long as you hear the water you will be ok. It was a real fun time and we thought we brought a lot of food and water for two but we barely had enough lol. Every chance we got we splashed water on our legs to keep fresh the whole way through!

hiking
30 days ago

Great view from the top if there is no marine layer! Moderate seems about right. I’m pretty out of shape and it was hard, but my nephew flew up it pretty easy. Can get cold and windy at the top, so might want to have a sweatshirt handy.

I wouldn't recommend taking your dogs. the rough surface is hard on them if u walk by the river. nice fun hike until my 120 rotty had to carried out 2.5 miles.

hiking
1 month ago

A great trial that unfortunately everyone knows about. Not great for hot days due to lack of shade though. Always high foot traffic, and parking is usually frustrating; pay attention to parking signs because cars Will be Towed!... It ends with a stunning view that everyone should experience at least once if they are local, and my dog loves this trail as much as me and everyone else.

This hike is actually 12.5 miles round trip, took us about 6.5 hrs with a 30 min lunch break at the top. Did it mid June 2018. We used strava to track it and most of the elevation gain is between miles 4-6. The last about 1.5 miles is bushwhacking through tall bushes and pines. Bring a jacket and wear pants to not get scraped up. The views going up are amazing, so it's nice to take breaks and look around. The summit has a fire tower which does not have a platform, but you can climb the stairs to just take a quick peek. Overall, it was a nice hike.

walking
1 month ago

Short walk to great views.

Beautiful views, perfect spot to watch the sunset!

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