Explore the most popular walking trails near San Luis Obispo with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Classic slo hike. Beautiful on a clear day! Also fun to do a sunrise or sunset version.

My least favorite hike. It’s straight up so if the sun is shining on you then you never get any relief. The view is behind you the whole time. It was worth doing once, but that was enough for me.

This is my go to hike in SLO. I love it. Beautiful view from the top and good workout.

Beautiful hike. Some wildflowers, rolling hills, a creek, trees, and a little cave in one area. Signs made it easy to stay on the Johnson Ranch loop. My watch said it was 3.3 miles, but I looped back around a bit to make it 4. It was easy to hike quickly and run parts to get a good workout. Online it said it’s a 1hr 45 min hike, but it took me 51 minutes with a bit of jogging mixed in. I didn’t see anyone until I was over half through the hike, but it was a weekday morning.

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.

Awesome hike and has a lot of rocks to climb through and over at the top! A lot of fun:)

Very easy and beautiful nature walk.

Great hike! And beautiful scenery all along the way

hiking
17 days ago

Awesome hike! Probably best hike in the area with nothing but pleasant hikers to share the trail!

it was a fun short hike. not difficult and there are shaded areas to get a break from the sun.

Awesome views! Go early if it’s going to be a hot day, and wear good shoes.

Lots of interesting bends and crossings. Beautiful scenery and a few shaded areas to break at. A nice creek area about midway. The trail is narrow in areas and frequently trafficked by people and dogs. They hills were rolling along so it didn’t seem like a big climb in any place. Well managed and allowable for bikes. There are bells and leashes available at the entrance. Great hike today!

Great hike! Beautiful!!

backpacking
27 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.

I've been wanting to hike this trail for some time now and over this past weekend I finally did! It was a great hike. I couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather and scenery. My mother-in-law joined me and at her short stature she had some difficulty climbing some of the rocks on the trail, but it wasn't at all too difficult. The subtle incline (due to frequent switchbacks) made for almost a leisurely hike. It was a busy trail, but everyone was so pleasant. This trail will be added to my "Will Hike Often" list.

Went this weekend, all 3 dogs were covered in Ticks when we left. Sign warned of Ticks, but didn’t think I would encounter this many!! Be prepared if you take your dogs.

This trail has amazing views of the “9 sisters” or volcanic plugs of San Luis Obispo County and other coastal areas. On a clear day you can see the Five Cities area down south. The parking lot is at the top of the Cuesta Grade and can be easy to miss. When coming from Atascadero, it is on the right just after you reach the top of “the grade” (turn into the brake check area). We always park at the bottom and hike from there, but many people drive further up the road, which results in some light traffic. There is a system of other trails connected to the main trail/road that I have not tried yet, but that look intriguing.

This is a beautiful hike. Steep climb to the top but worth the views. Try and go in a weekday to avoid crowds. We hiked it on a Sunday and there were too many people. The trail doesn’t have a lot (if any shade) so be aware of that during warmer temps. Watch for poison ivy along the lower portion of the trail. The climb does have rocks to go up and down and around etc. so be sure to wear appropriate clothes and shoes.

trail running
1 month ago

This trail is entertaining and a good challenge. There is an occasional cow that wanders onto the trail. It is very well used, but also well-maintained. In order to keep it well-maintained, it is occasionally closed for a few days after rain. Keep that in mind before you come and check it’s status online. Bells provided for mountain bikers at the entrance. It has several loops to either shorten or lengthen your trip.

Scenic raised boardwalk trail with a nice view of the grasslands/estuary. There are several entrances embedded in a neighborhood in Los Osos.

hiking
1 month ago

Good hike, especially if you add in Felsman Loop, about 6.2 miles total. Saw quite a few people wearing running shoes, not recommended, to rocky the last 3/4 of a mile!

One of our family’s favorite hikes! Our seven year old makes it to the top by herself almost every time but our five year old needs assistance. The trail is wide enough for a BOB stroller (speaking from experience). Also a great trail to take your dog just don’t forget their leash. The views are amazing and worth the work. There is a stage at the top which a wonderful place to have a picnic before you head back down.

I love this trial. it never disappoints,it has amazing views and is a great hike. You should take the time for this hike.

Beautiful hike, especially after the recent rains.

Trails are a bit of a challenge because of recent rains and the creek being a bit higher and covering some trails. There is extensive poison oak. Long pants are highly recommended.

Went back a week later with the grandkids to show them the cool fall and cave at the base of the trail. They had lots of fun and didn’t have to go on a trail to get there. This was a plus because there is a ton of poison oak.

Awesome hike! Probably the best hike in the area!

Great hike. My son enjoyed the climbing part. Good workout and a rewarding view.

trail running
1 month ago

Great morning run for some climbs. I recommend running counterclockwise so you can climb the technicals and descend a wider path. Also against the flow of mountain bikers so you can see or hear them coming on their sweet downhill run.

Cool rock climbing if you would like. Good exercise
Beautiful scenery

The view from the top was breathtaking and right off the start the waterfall is at the bottom. Directions were confusing. Lots of poison oak all around you and on the trees. Right above the waterfall there is a bridge it leads you up to two separate paths if you take the right it takes you to where the bench is and to the left overpassing the creek it takes you to the swing!
Easy to moderate but long loop we never completed

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