Cerro San Luis Obispo Trail

MODERATE 21 reviews

Cerro San Luis Obispo Trail is a 3.7 mile out and back trail located near San Luis Obispo, California that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate offers a number of activity options. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
3.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1043 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

rocky

no shade

hiking
1 month ago

This route up to the summit of Cerro San Luis Obispo is one of the most popular hikes in the San Luis Obispo area. Despite being within walking distance of downtown, it has a remote, semi-wild feel. The trail starts at the Lemon Grove Loop Trail just off Highway 101 and Marsh Street. While there is plenty of parking available, it can still fill up fast, especially on weekends.

The trail starts as the Lemon Grove Loop Trail and climbs up through the Cerro San Luis Obispo Natural Reserve (also called the Charles A and Mary R Maino Open Space).Staying to the left on the wide path at several junctions, you will eventually come to a vehicle barrier that marks the spot where you leave the Reserve and enter private property owned by the Madonna family. This area is open to the public, but stay on the trail. You shortly pass through a second gate and then gradually curve up the mountain. A series of switchbacks keep the grade from getting too steep, but the road is very rocky and rutted. You'll eventually come to a flat clearing just below the summit with a large wooden platform. Several paths wind up through the rocks to the summit, where you'll enjoy remarkable views of all of San Luis Obispo. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Morro Bay.

Make a note of each intersection on the way up, as there are no trail signs once you leave the Reserve and there are numerous unofficial paths near the summit. It's also possible to continue east from the summit and make your way down to the Lemon Grove Loop for a loop trip.

This trail is popular with mountain bikers and bike bells are provided near the trailhead for their use. Most of the trail is a wide dirt road, so you shouldn't have any problems. While the views are best on a clear day, there's very little shade anywhere along the route and hiking on a foggy day will be more pleasant, at least during the warmer months of the year.

NOTE: Several days after our hike, the San Luis Obispo Parks & Recreation Department closed the Lemon Grove Loop Trail indefinitely due to numerous mountain lion sightings in the area. While this closure only affects the Lemon Grove Loop portion of the route, it effective blocks you from accessing the summit via this route until the trail is re-opened. It's still possible to reach the summit from the longer route that starts at Laguna Lake.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

This particular route is the most commonly hiked trail at this trailhead (the others are the Lemon Grove Loop and the off shoot trail up to the "M"). Steep and rocky in some sections, particularly at the end of rainy season as the fire road portions of the trail sustain erosion and seems to be irregularly graded. Fantastic views of the valley and on a clear day, you can see to Morro Bay. Not a lot of shade, so best times to hike are before 10 am and after 4:00 PM (summer). The park closes at dusk, so in the fall and winter, set out by 3:30 PM at the latest as there is a pretty steep climb/descent at the bottom third of the trail that is tricky to negotiate as the sun is setting.

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
2 months ago

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3 months ago

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3 months ago

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4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

trail running
5 months ago

5 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Friday, May 05, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Monday, September 19, 2016

hiking
Thursday, June 11, 2015

recorded 6/3/15

hiking
Wednesday, June 03, 2015

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Friday, October 26, 2012

hiking
Saturday, June 02, 2012