Ontario Ridge to Shell Beach Bluff Trail Loop

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Pismo Beach, California

Ontario Ridge to Shell Beach Bluff Trail Loop is a 2.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Pismo Beach, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 2.8 miles Elevation Gain: 744 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

partially paved

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

hiking
off trail
rocky
2 months ago

I’ve done this one left to right and right to left. Left to right is hard at first then too easy. Right to left is challenging most of the way through.

hiking
no shade
rocky
3 months ago

Amazing hike. Not bad at all, if you haven’t been and love to stop and take pictures then I would give yourself plenty of time to finish the hike. We loved it.

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty steep to start, but it was well worth the climb!

hiking
5 months ago

We went clockwise which was nice since the hard part was over with - would not want to try and come down that side. Super, super steep, going to feel that tomorrow. Beautiful weather and views. Lots of other hikers, Saturday, December 28, 2019. Def. need good tread on your shoes. Great photo ops. The swings were mostly broken. Would love to fix up some new ones!

Needs trail markers. Also, highly recommend poles and shoes with good tread. This has very steep and very slippery sections. Amazing views.

hiking
7 months ago

our niece suggested this trail and we are glad she did! Very challenging at the start heading up the steep incline. Once we reached the top the views are amazing. The swing overlooking the water it awesome.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Awesome views throughout hike. To start the loop, we went straight uphill from the trail head off the parking area on a well worn and slippery steep incline. Based on reviews, we preferred to do that hill going up, it can be hairy coming down. Well worth it. The loop takes about 90 mins with stops for photos.

hiking
8 months ago

I don’t know why this is marked as a moderate hike. I found it strenuous with extremely steep up-and-down sections on the trail. I had shoes that did not have good tread and found it very slippery. I fell a few times. And I noticed other people falling as well. Be careful parking in the dirt parking lot. If you have a high suspension and four-wheel-drive it’s not a problem. Great views but I probably wouldn’t do this hike again.

hiking
8 months ago

Started from the alternative trail head. That worked well, but parking is very limited. The trail head is at a fire road which has a no parking sign. Very steep up and down as others note. Highly recommend counterclockwise because the slope going up from the main trail head is all sand, straight up and very slippery. The views from the ridge are great. The bottom half takes you along a street for a portion. Don’t miss the swings.

hiking
scramble
8 months ago

Great view, solid little hike, easy to miss trail entrance so ended up doing a section through neighborhood. End (counter clockwise) is VERY steep and loose underfoot. I would not bring small kids, shame because of the cool swings on top. Maybe if you out and back instead of loop...

hiking
9 months ago

Fantastic hike. One of the best in SLO County on a high visibility day. Recommend parking on Shell Beach side of loop and hiking counter clockwise for best views. Swing at the top. Very steep decent on Avila side. Take side trail from Pirates Cove parking lot to Cave Landing. Only negative - last time I did this, there was transient camping at Pirates Cove parking lot.

hiking
10 months ago

Great, very challenging hike! The initial assent was crazy steep, but as you walk along the ridge the trail is wide mostly and great 360 degree views. Used the all trails map to make sure we were on course as we came down. The swings are fun and cute. The best part was watching marine layer disappear and blow over the top of the mountain as we hiked.

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful rewarding hike! Loved coming across these two sweet swings overlooking the ocean. A definite must.

hiking
11 months ago

Love this trail, it’s a little rocky but well worth it especially if you get a chance to use the swing at the top and enjoy the beautiful view

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

Challenging hike, saw lots of wildlife. There are several swings in the summit. Overall great hike with amazing views

hiking
Sat May 04 2019

Great trail. Very steep in some places so best to have hiking shoes, which we did not. Great views!

hiking
Mon Apr 29 2019

I can’t believe we waited this long to do this trail. At this time of year there was still a lot of blooms and scenery was beautiful, party cloudy but perfect weather for a hike. It took us a little over an hour but that included play time on the swings and taking pictures. There was some really steep hills but perfect for getting the feel of a workout. Really nice shaded areas and ocean views.

hiking
over grown
Sun Apr 28 2019

Oh my God Steep and we didn’t even go up the Freeway side. It was a great hike however. Make sure you have hiking shoes not slip-on’s. The wild flowers are taking over and watch for ticks.

hiking
Sun Apr 28 2019

This one has never disappointed. I'll hike this about every other week, typically around sunset. Steep incline at first with loose dirt, but after that it's even or downhill. Great views of Avila and Pismo.

hiking
Tue Apr 23 2019

A local favorite. Definitely do the steep incline first to get it over with. There is some loose gravel in parts, but the views at the top as well as the swings at various points and the ocean breeze are definitely worth it.

hiking
Mon Mar 11 2019

Definitely park in the dirt coldesac on the bluff. If you are facing the mountain then look to your left and you will be see a wide dirt walking trail straight up the mountain. It’s very steep. Take that way up . It will loop you all the way up and around and back down the mountain on the other side, take you through a beautiful neighborhood, and pop you right back out at your car.

hiking
Sat Feb 23 2019

Really steep part at the beginning. It was really hard but after that it was all good. If you are fearful of heights I would definitely do the steep part first. The views were FANTASTIC! SO worth the pain of the first portion.

Fri Oct 19 2018

So beautiful. Pretty steep incline but well worth the trip for the stunning views. Cute swing at the top for a photo op.

hiking
Wed Oct 17 2018

The good: great views all around. Why I would not do this trail again, or for the first time if I knew, is mainly the road noise. Also, it's the strenuous side of moderate, as has been noted. It's very steep for a fairly prolonged period. That doesn't bother me so much if I knew going in. There is very little shade. We parked at Pirates' Cove, and went along the Bluff Drive. Go left at the humongous yellow/gold house, that has a chain across what looks like a driveway. It's not the driveway. There's a little sign that looks like a dog print that says "keep our nature trail clean." That's how you know where the trail is. The easier way is if you go on the left trail that goes up from there. We went to the right, and the "up" when you turn is actually a bit scary, it's so steep and along a ridge. I may be in the minority about this trail, most people seem to love it, but... I'm not a fan.

Mon Sep 24 2018

Um... this was very difficult if you are a new hiker. Reviews didn’t adequately prepare for this shit, as y’all probably have killer calves and fancy hiking boots. Just when I thought I had hit the highest point and climbed the steepest hill, another was there, staring me down, proving me wrong. People were laughing on this hike. I was just attempting to breathe. The final decent on the way down to pirates cove is an absolute joke. A straight 90 degree angle. If you didn’t have bad knees yet, now you will. They should provide sleds to get down. I decided to just ride it down on my ass since I kept falling on it anyway. Long story short, most beautiful views on the coast guaranteed, but don’t let these meatheads tell you it’s easy.

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