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.

Great elevation changes to warm you up.

Hike is fun, pretty. We went in the am and it was overcast making the trail not as bad...however many big rocks throughout the whole trail. Was not a fan of the rocks but the top view is very pretty. Poison oak is not too bad just keep an eye out for little bushes hanging out! Fun hike on a cooler morning

This is one of the definitive hikes for San Luis Obispo. The views from the top are gorgeous.

Sunny, bring a hat and water, but very comfortable trail; I’d call the shorter loop easy, haven’t done the longer one so can’t rank that. Usually you’ll run into several bikers, runners, hikers, and a family or two. Very fun and casual hike

Highlight of my trip and especially great on a cloudy day when it's too cold to visit the beach. We made it up in under an hour and enjoyed climbing on the large boulders at the summit. However, be warned that there is poison oak everywhere (thanks for the tip random passerby), especially around the top. Wear long pants and enjoy the view.

backpacking
18 days ago

Parked at the Big Falls Trail. Recommend a truck as the water crossings to get there would be too much for a sedan/ car. From the parking lot to Sulphur Pots Camp site is just over 4 miles, crossing the stream about 30 times. Your feet will get wet so take extra shoes/ socks. The trail is overgrown and we did some trimming. There is a ton of Poison Oak, but It doesn't affect me. Camp site was nice with a fire pit and picnic table (Boy Scout project). Trees worked well for hammocks. Saw 3 eagles under the tree canopy on the trail and a small bear. Great camp.

We had to climb the fence to get to the trail so we were a little hesitant at first, but the hike is a dirt road & easy to follow. It's a gradual incline with nice views of San Luis Obispo & even Morro Bay. Went in June & the smell of the wildflowers was very nice! The terrain starts off as dry grass & oak trees but at about 2 miles it changes to pine trees & more of a mountain terrain. It was a nice surprise.

hiking
24 days ago

Really special hike, with a big payoff in views and landscape for the short length. The first stretch across the pasture is mostly fire-road style and a bit of an uphill slog, but by the time you get to the forest and start switchbacking as you circle up to the summit the trail design is really nice. The rock outcrops and desert wildflowers towards the top remind me of Pinnacles NM minus the $25 entrance fee. The main drawback is that there is tons of poison oak along the path in the forested area; don't get led astray by the desire trails in this section if you don't have Tecnu with you––the right trail is the most obvious one. There's also some poison oak at the summit in around the boulders that people like to climb up for the views. I wouldn't recommend this trail for beginner hikers. I passed a few pretty grumpy folks who seemed like they thought this would be an easy break from tourist things in SLO and a nice view; the relatively quick elevation gain makes this a decent workout, and the exposed trail for most of the route means you shouldn't forget your sun protection and adequate water.

Great trail. Fairly strenuous but great views. One negative point was we had some ticks on us at the end.

hiking
25 days ago

This moderately trafficked loop trail is well marked and beautiful. Along the trail we saw numerous native birds and wild flowers. Most areas are fully sun exposed, but there are a few shaded areas in the wooded segment of the trail. Although we hiked the looped trail, I do recommend the trail for runners, also. There is a connector option on the trail that cuts through the loop to make it a shorter hike if so desired. I recommend this easy to moderate trail and make sure to bring some water.

Ok- gotta say....people weren’t kidding. Views are awesome, but humans and dog both COVERED in ticks.

trail running
27 days ago

Every morning this trail kicks my butt. I not only go for the view but also for a challenge. 

Very enjoyable . Great views . Peaceful

Good hike with lots of sun & several shady pockets. Terrain has thin layer of loose dirt & not too rocky, so it won't be too tough on dog paws. Saw several families with young kids too.

I’m completely unfit, and the switchbacks were a little tough but I still enjoyed the hike and loved the views untitled the clouds rolled in

I give it 5 stars to the loop; however, my wife and I took it a but further towards Irish hills and that area was way too dry for our taste... So we'll give it 4.5; nonetheless, it was an very nice hike. We definitely recommend it..

Nice distance. Elevation. Was warm today. Recommend early morning if no cloud coverage. Well maintained trail. Wear good trail shoes to prevent slipping. Hydrate.
Gorgeous views.

Wonderful and peaceful hike.

Has a moderate uphill grade, but definitely the best local hike!

Fun, not super strenuous hike! Absolutely great view.

This is a great, easy trail. Watch for poison oak when you get to shady areas. If you go in the spring the mustard plants and other wild flowers are amazing. I went during a holiday weekend and it wasn’t crowded. Nicely kept trail. Please clean up after your dogs and don’t leave the dog poop bags on the trail.

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

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