Explore the most popular river 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.

Great hike for one day... moderately steep uphill, with plenty vista points to view Morro Bay from the top

a good healthy hike that is beautiful

I went last Sunday and the gate leading to the trail was closed and it was 9 miles from the gate to where the hike started. Does anyone know if it is open yet?

Just hiked here yesterday. It’s starting to get HOT but it was still an awe inspiring experience to turn the corner and be at the base of these majestic rock formations! Definitely will be back, hope to backpack into Sespe.

Great wildflowers. Steep at times. Better than sneakers is preferable. Poles would be good idea unless you are very fit or light on your feet. Outstanding views from top but very nice views throughout the hike.

(Now I have to hike down...)

backpacking
25 days ago

Backpacked from Rinconada trail to 101 E Cuesta Grade. Camped 1 night on Big Falls Trail, second night at Sulphur Pots. Super cool area, lots of water (dried up just above Upper Lopez Camp), just SO MUCH poison oak. Definite evidence of a trail, but hours walking through with PO all around the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

It was my first time hiking in the Santa Barbara area and I really liked this hike. I think it could have been a 5 star hike if I had hiked it on a clear day.

Parking- we easily found parking along the side of the road on the right side near the trailhead...which is on the left side of the road

Trail- the sign at the start states that the trail is 4.2 miles with 641 ft of elevation gain...not sure what that is based on, but if you are like me and wish to take this trail to Inspiration Point and back it was 7.1 miles for me with an elevation gain of 1,600 ft...so quite a bit of difference there; the trail is easy to follow and the first 1.5 goes north and sticks close to the creek and the water was running with some recent rain; the trail then leaves the trees and heads in a NE direction through a more open sort of grassland area and you will cross a road and some private property nearby and then the incline kicks in for the final mile or so with some switchbacks up to Inspiration Point...which I didn't see any signs but I had my app to verify we had made it there and there were some other hikers there already but sadly there was no view to enjoy since it was an extremely overcast and foggy morning (4/2/18) and visibility was maybe 200 yards so there was no view of the ocean or island sadly; the hike was green, with the sound of running water for most of the time, and great views of the mountains to the northeast...I just wished we could have seen the ocean...FYI dogs are allowed on this trail off leash which doesn't bother me but might bother some

*the second half of the hike we really worked up a sweat not only because it was steeper but it was very humid and there was a light mist/drizzle

Of course bring plenty of water and hiking shoes or shoes with good traction, trekking poles are not needed for this hike. Plan on this hike taking about 3-4 hours. I would rate this as moderately difficult.

Epic bucket list hike.... went out with a bang! Always wanted to do an overnight hiking trip before my big 5-0 .... trail was no easy task (for me) but with the help of my daughter it was a success..... Not so much for one of our team mates who fell about 30ft down a revine and had to be airlifted out after my daughter was able to rescue her enough to get her back on the trail. Hats off #calfire #chp and the medical team.
I will definitely be back.

Came back to see the Punch Bowls. We were unaware of a sign saying it was closed, but we were allowed in. Lots of groups and families were out on the trail. It was sad to see all the damages the Thomas Fire left on and in the surrounding areas of the Punch Bowls. Despite that the Punch Bowls was still there alive and beautiful as before. A lot of scrambling on the hike due to the fire. If you’re familiar with the trail then it shouldn’t be difficult to get to the falls. The green arrows on the rocks should lead you there. Otherwise, you can follow the creek.

This trail offers a spectacular view once you reach the summit. It also is a fantastic workout and an amazing alternative to stair steppers and elliptical machines!

hiking
1 month ago

I went on a very misty/foggy day so the views at the top of Inspiration point weren't that great, but the journey there and back made up for it! Lots of ravines, boulders, wooded streams, and then the winding turns making your way up the mountain made for a great walk. The last mile or two have very little shade so bring sun protection and plenty of water.

hiking
1 month ago

Very pretty! Not a very difficult hike -pretty flat. Road to the trailhead was closed so we parked and walked about a mile and a half to the trailhead. Has a couple trail signs along the way.

I love this trail!

I took the longer trail to the summit and the shorter one back to the campground. Both are worth seeing, but I preferred the longer route. Both trails are found inside the campground. The longer is further in than the short trail. There is a $10.00 fee that you can pay before the campground right as you turn off of hwy 41 or in the dirt lot at the back of the campground next to the trailhead.

It is a fairly steep trail, especially the last 1.2 miles to the top. Be sure to have shoes with decent tread on the way down. The loose gravel and incline combine to make it a bit slippery. This last leg is also very sunny. Bring sunscreen or a hat.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great hike if you're looking for a moderately difficult hike, nothing fancy. Parts of it are challenging enough to make you sweat, it's easy to follow, and there's a rewarding view at the top. We hiked it midday on a Friday and the trail wasn't too busy. It's very well marked. The creeks were flowing and the foliage was lush, but this is early April so I expect it will be dry as a bone later in the summer. Speaking of foliage, there's a ton of poison oak so keep an eye out if you have little ones. My 4 little guys (ages 4-9) hiked it no problem, tho we had to constantly remind them to avoid the poison oak. Parking was really easy too, just along the road opposite the filtration plant. I'd recommend starting early and packing plenty of water.

hiking
1 month ago

I traveled east on Hurricane Deck and connected with Manzana Trail near and headed east. The flat terrain and ample water crossing was nice after a long hike up Potrero to the Deck. If you’re looking for a hard elevation trek this isn’t what you’re looking for. Be prepared to cross water 25+ times if you plan on going to the school house from the Sun Valley trailhead.

hiking
1 month ago

I’ve loved this trail for years. It is enough of a challenge to make you feel like you accomplished something. I love the pace of it and the carried terrain. If it has rained you might find some mud, but the creek will be flowing and provide amazing acoustics for your hike. I love to do this with friends and even the preteens like this one! Highly recommend, and start at the water treatment if you want to cut it to 6.6 miles and about 1500’ of elevation.

Great place. Easy quick hike. Waterfall was roarin after the rains. Tied a line to a tree across falls at the top n zip lined to the middle. Epic view. Can also climb on the top of the boulder in middle of water. There's a lil cave under that rock as well.

We arrived March 24, 2018 after several days of heavy rain. The security guard was turning people away as the trail was closed. No idea when they will reopen.

hiking
1 month ago

kool hike friendly vibe easy access to parking✌

trail running
2 months ago

We parked at the 41 entrance and ran up the boyscout trail which is quite steep. Went through the tower road where it connected to the out and back of the Cerro Alto Loop. Amazing views of Los Osos, Morro Bay and all the peaks. Diablo, Black Hills, etc....Highly recommended!

I couldn’t find anywhere about the condition of this hike after the fire. So I went and checked it out. Same easy access to it gate is open and no one stopped us from going in and also no posted “area closed” signs. For the most part the trail along the river bed was untouched by the fire, lots of mud and rock slides Have happened though and saw a few times rocks come tumbling down while we were up there. The water is dingy and cold so we didn’t go in. The trail up the hill away from the river was also slightly washed out by mud slides and lots of fire damage that way, cool sight to see plus right now there is new green growth coming through the black and ash. I recommend it. Wear boots.

love it. take the connector trail on the fire road near the start it's a great view steep....straight up...

This trail is easy to find and has plenty of parking right off HWY 1. The trail starts off with the waterfall only 200 yds from the parking lot. Next, switch backs take you up 800' revealing wild flowers and rock outcroppings. About a mile into the hike, we were stopped dead in our tracks by a mountain lion. Luckily it wasn't looking for dinner or a fight, and just warned us with a pronounced growl. We took a hint and turned around. I am looking forward to going back to complete the hike without interruption.

Great hike for day hikers and overnight hikers. Plenty of water there, easy drive from SLO

backpacking
2 months ago

Started at the Big Falls trailhead, I got there in my 2 wheel drive GMC truck, You have to drive through about 8 or 9 streams to get to the trailhead. so high clearance or 4 wheel drive vehicle works well. At the trailhead, a KIA Sorento and Ford Explorer made it. so maybe I'm just being cautious.
The trail is excellent. The creek was flowing great and the multiple crossings reminded me that I should have brought extra socks. However; about 3.5 miles up the canyon. the trail was totally overgrown. We were probably 20 minutes out from the camp. but didn't have any brush clearing tools. We turned back and crossed the creek another 10 times or so and went back to SLO for dinner.

Very sad to hear that this trail has been destroyed by the Thomas fire. This was one of the best hikes I've ever found. I hope that it will be restored within my lifetime so I can go hike this majestic trail again...

Closed due to the mud slides

hiking
2 months ago

This is a great long hike. Especially nice that dogs can be off leash. Winds through nice forest and cool scenery before making it to the top of inspiration point. Parking access is definitely easier than the inspiration point hike.

great hike as always..i haven't been here in a couple of years, too bad the streams are just about completely dried...the gate was closed so we decided to hike ,jog,backpack our way to red rock...took a few hours..and was a 11.4 mile hike

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