Shell Beach Bluffs and Ontario Ridge

MODERATE 71 reviews

Shell Beach Bluffs and Ontario Ridge 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.

2.8 miles
744 feet

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers

18 days ago

Gorgeous views of Pirate's Cove and the coastline, north and south. It's steep going up and down no matter which way you go, but well worth it.

21 days ago

We went the bottom half, got lost in residential area and then the last part was coming down the hill from the top of the map. I recommend going this way. The hills are steep, bring good hiking shoes and stretch.

2 months ago

First trail I've ever done. I had a ton of fun, met some great strangers along the way and have some fantastic photos! I started at the parking lot by Pirates Cove. Getting to the tip-top from there was a challenge but it was smooth sailing after that. There are two swings along the way if you can find them!

3 months ago

Didn’t see previous entry. No parking at trailhead and could find one in the residential area next to trailhead. For someone new to area need trailhead parking directions with basic trail info.

3 months ago

If you follow these directions, you will be lead to a cul de sac with little to no parking. Instead take Avila Beach Road to Cave Landing Road. There’s a nice parking lot there. Also if you do the whole loop, it is not an easy hike. In fact it’s very strenuous at times. However, the views are amazing and worth the hike.

4 months ago

This is an easy paved walkway. You can continue the trail up the hill and over to the Pirates Cove parking area.

5 months ago

great views of the beach

6 months ago

The description on this hike is misleading. Ontario ridge trail (El portal & Shell beach road) is not stroller friendly since it starts with an incline with shale. The majority of the trail is shale lined & it’s mainly uphill. If you take the trail behind the homes, it’s maintained & a different terrain. Scenic ocean views & cute swing for selfies.

6 months ago

Worked my butt

6 months ago

Very cool app! I can’t wait to use this wherever I travel!

6 months ago

Loved this hike. Starts very steep and ends even steeper as you go down toward the ocean, but most of it is rolling up and down along the ridge with incredible views and a couple rope swings along the way.

6 months ago

very steep hill on the cave road side, but the views are phenomenal and well worth the climb. find the swing overlooking the water for a picturesque break.

9 months ago

Giving it a 4+ because of the awesome views of coast. Hike is not hard. Pretty short but some pretty steep sections. Take a camera

11 months ago

A little steep on each end for hobbits, an easy trek for elves. But very scenic.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Great views of the coast, but some inclines were more than moderate. Footing was loose on some very steep downhill portions.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Best views on the coast!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

awesome views

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My favorite

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Very beautiful trail. Paved most of the way. Has different routes you can take.

Monday, August 01, 2016

We added this trail to another one that starts from Avila Springs hotel (parked there), then came back by Bluff Trail. with all its nice villas. We also descended the hill to Pirates Cove and that was the worst part, stones rollings everywhere I thought I was going to strain an ankle! Very nice views from the crest!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Nice vistas of the ocean and the pier. Eroding in some sections and a steep decent down to Pirates Cove

Sunday, May 01, 2016

beautiful day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

great moderate hike. has some steep parts that can kick an out of shape butt like mine but the views are unmatched. nice little swing to soak it all in at the top of the mountain overlooking the water too. going down the back way by pirates cove is like going down a free fall because its almost straight down but overall a good hike.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Great Hike up the ridge .. Awesome views .. Steep sections at times , but very doable ..

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nice hike with the family! Beautiful views:)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

was so diappointed. the GPS took us thru a neighborhood and to a couldesac. we parked and headed on the trail (access road?) but we're soon stopped by a locked gate. am I missing something? help!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Bluffs area of Shell Beach and its walking path is a perfect warm-up walk for the hike up what my partner and I call 'hell hill' (above Pirate's Cove parking area) which leads to the top of one of the best views of Avila Beach all the way south towards Point Sal. Hell Hill is a stair stepping climb of a hill of approx 400+ yards. At the top, the trail to the left is a loop that will shunt you into the Sycamore Mineral Springs route on a rather rough trail. The trails to the right and forward will lead you to well maintained Sycamore Springs trail or you can keep heading right and uphill along the ridge towards the Microwave WiFi Stations and then you are on the so called "Twin Peaks Trail" actually it is officially the Ontario Ridge trail/loop on a map. You can begin the Ontario- Twin Peaks loop at the corner of El Portal Drive and Shell Beach Road. It's a killer climb that way too. Your reward is the view; and the views are spectacular, and of course, a great workout. Make sure you take plenty of water and have a great pair of hiking boots/shoes. I've seen people walking with flip-flops on and this really is NOT the hike to flip-flop around on.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PERFECT trail for beginning hikers to advanced "strollers" lol. Amazing views of not only the ocean but multi million dollar houses.

You can access pirates cove from this trail by ascending the large hill to your right after you've gone as far as you can go on the paved section. There is actually a secluded bench on the top of this hill that's perfect for catching breathtaking views. Stroller and kid friendly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Easy walk on paved pathway. Nice for a pleasant stroll but certainly not a hike. Great views though.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wouldn't really call this a hiking "trail", as most of it is paved. but it still has nice views and would be good for first timers or kids

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