Ontario Ridge Trail via Sycamore Springs

moderate 123 reviews

Ontario Ridge Trail via Sycamore Springs is a 4 mile out and back trail located near Avila Beach, California that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and nature trips. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,332 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash


nature trips




2 months ago

I've been doing this hike for years and it never gets old. fantastic views. I make it a full loop of 4 miles by parking at the bob jones trail and walking to the trailhead. then when you reach the hot springs just reconnect with the Bob jones and back to the parking lot.

2 months ago

Really good trail. Very calm, and not too hard. Recommend this trail to others

3 months ago

We stopped here for a quick hike to break up the drive from southern to Northern California and it was a welcome break. Really lovely views and a nice workout with the hills. Be sure to stop and enjoy the swings along the way!

4 months ago

Amazing expansive views on this hike of Shell Beach and San Luis Bay. I parked on El Portal and then started the hike at the trailhead around the corner. I went on a Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. and it was definitely crowded. The first half of the hike has several steep ascents with loose rocks and dirt. I saw a few people struggling who were wearing crappy shoes. I turned off the main trail toward Sycamore Springs, but then decided to do a loop and return to the main trail. I then took a steep trail down to the Pirate’s Cove parking lot. I took a short bluff trail from there which deposited me in a gated neighborhood with some very large houses. There is a path along the side of the road and a lookout. After exiting the neighborhood, I found myself on El Portal road again. It was a fun hike - I will definitely go back.

5 months ago

Had a burrito with BigFoot and French fries

washed out
5 months ago

If you wana enjoy the sea view throughout your trail, go for it. Gets sketchy at some places and gets slippery but it's an nice moderate trail !!

6 months ago

Breathtaking views!!!

9 months ago

Fun hike. Pretty steep in some areas but so worth it once you get to the swings up top!

10 months ago

As far as we know, there are three trailheads to this hike: ⁣⁣ -Pirate’s Cove⁣⁣ -HWY 101 ⁣⁣ -Top of Sycamore Springs/Spa. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ We started near Pirate’s Cove near the neighborhood and went clockwise but honestly I’d recommend to go counter clockwise and start near the 101.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Both trailheads start with a steep incline but the 101 has an abundance of gravel which made it very difficult to come down without slipping. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The directions of the map starts at the top of Sycamore Springs but you’ll get towed if you park on their premises and there is no where else to park unless you want to park a 1/2 mile down the street and walk up a 1 mile, steep inclined driveway to get to the sycamore trailhead. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Here’s how we got there:⁣ -If you’re going 101 south, you’ll make a slight right off of Avila Beach Dr. then make a quick left onto Shell Beach Rd. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ -Go about 1/4 of a mile down and turn right onto El Portal Dr. and park in the neighborhood where it’s permitted. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ -Right before you turn onto El Portal, you’ll see a rusted fence on the corner about 20 ft in from the street. That will be your starting point. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Bring LOTS of water!!

Sat Dec 15 2018

Hour well spent.

Sat Aug 04 2018

Best views in town!

Fri Aug 03 2018

Mon Jun 18 2018

This time I went up on the 101 side and then down to pirates back to the 101 through the fire trail and neighborhood. 2.90 miles total. Great views and a good workout.

Fri Feb 09 2018

This is another option to the Sycamore Crest Trail, with a shorter, but more strenuous incline at the start of your hike up to the ridge. The breathtaking views make it all worth it!

Fri Feb 09 2018

Well worth the effort, especially considering how close it is to civilization.

Thu Jan 25 2018

Amazing views on this hike. It was a pretty good workout too....

Wed Nov 22 2017

Fantastic views! Good morning hike.

Sat Apr 29 2017

Amazing views the entire hike, multiple options to reach the point with different levels of difficulty.

Mon Apr 24 2017

Love this hike. The climb from the 101 entrance is steep as heck.... used hands a few times. I counted 5-6 different hills to the top. Then took Sycamore Mineral springs back trail all the way down and across that lovely bridge and down to Bob Jones trail which is shady and serene and ends at Avila beach where my hubby picks me up. About 4.5 miles .... the initial climb is a good workout... approx 1 mile 545 ft up ... Sycamore trail is a gradual decline and so pretty and shady but not a lot of folks on that trail so as a woman all alone I am a little nervous (I love to watch forensic files too much) so I ran down. 2nd time doing this.... will definitely go again but with friends.

Fri Nov 25 2016

This trail is doubly threatened. The Sycamore Springs management threatens to tow hikers who park in the parking lot. And a Texas billionaire couple, the McArtheys, have put up barbed wire fences to keep hikers out even though their deed has a public easement on it. When the Coastal Commission ordered them to take down the fences, they complied. But now they have set a meeting with the SLO Board of Sups to rescind the trail and build another next door. Public easements are irrevocable and pressure must be put on the Sups to prevent this.

Thu Nov 17 2016

Excellent views from Ontario Ridge, serene walk thru oak forest on the way to the ridge.

Mon Oct 03 2016

Loved the hike, but the downhill part to Avila was no good. I preferred starting from Shell Beach. Really beautiful.

Sun Aug 28 2016


Tue Jul 26 2016

A nice challenging hike, especially if you are starting from/ near Avila beach side. Suggestion: -wear proper hiking shoes - start hike early in the morning There's a nice treat once you arrive at the top!

Wed Mar 30 2016

Some tough inclines, but it's a great work out and I love the views

Mon Mar 07 2016

Ontario Ridge Trail my #11 of 52 hikes for the ‪#‎52hikechallenge‬ ‪#‎52hikechallenge2016‬. Alltrails.com lists this trail as a moderate hike. Even though it was relatively short at 4 miles, I would have to agree. There are some very steep, long, hard inclines at the beginning and at the half way point that make this a challenge and a great workout. I took my normal hiking gear, day pack, water, 10 essentials, etc. Pack today was only about 20/25 pounds.

Thu Mar 03 2016

Also known as Dino Mountain to some of us locals! Great hike, never fails to give me a great workout. It's a butt burner. Great views.

Thu Oct 01 2015

Great trail....I started on the 101 side and soon realized that it was steeper than I realized. From the other side people say it's easier. Either way some lady ran by me with a couple of dogs which made me feel like I was a turtle. The views are spectacular! I brought my camera gear and took one of my all time favorite photo's on the trail.

Mon Sep 28 2015

Steeper than you'd think, but a great walk. Great, great view from the ridge. Path down from the ridge on the ocean side is destroying the hillside - take the road down to Sycamore or the path down to 101.

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