When you arrive at the parking lot, you will come upon a pay-station. I recommend paying, as this is what keeps this path kept up (as well as expanded regularly), but don't be detoured by the $5 parking fee. You will notice several cars (unless you're the first to arrive) parked just outside the entrance. Parking along side the fields to walk the trail, will keep you from paying the $5 parking fee. Once again, support this park, but most importantly come fall in love with this hike. I know you will see the value, and pay next time.
You'll also see animal life along this part of the walk. Keep your eyes and ears alert for Bobcats, Racoons, Butterflies, and many differet species of birds. Once again, this is area is an ecological rarity, which is home to several endangered species. Please keep this in mind, and stay on trail.
Once across the lake, you have about a 2/3 mile walk to the shoreline. There are many "rest stops" along the path, in order to rest and take in this unique landscape. As you venture further into the dunes, the thick vegitation turns into a more typical sand dune environment. Dune Lupine, Deer Weed, Wax Myrtle, Mock Heather, and Golden Rod are a few of the plants to look for along this portion of the trail.
You will notice about this point in the walk (especially during tourist season / busy camping weekends) the sound of engines. You are hearing "comp hill". The Oso Flaco Boardwalk follows the south edge of the State Vehicular Recreation Area in the Oceano Dunes. You will also come across many signs alerting you of the Snowy Plover. Never cross these signs, they're here for a reason.
March 1, through September 30 the beach north of the Oso Flaco Boardwalk, as well as ALL back-dunes areas are cordined off from all public access. The Snowy Plover is a federally protected ednagered species of bird. If you trespass into a closed area, you are subject to (and if a rranger sees you, there's almost no douubt you will recieve) a $270 ticket.
Coming upon a bulletin board, you'll have the first of 2 choices to make. If you need to use the restroom, or you want to walk the SVRA, make a right turn at this juncture. Otherwise, keep heading straight along the path.
When you reach the beach-end of the boardwalk, you reach the second fork. You can stay to the right and you will be at the water's edge in about 50 yards (depending on tide). Earlier I mentioned this is a handicap accessible hike. When you reach this fork, make a left to reach an elevated viewing area. From this wheelchair accessible vantage point, you can see from Point Sal to Diablo Canyon / Avila Beach.
Whether your in town visiting and want to get away from the crowds, or a local that is looking for a spot to get away from it all, Oso Flaco lake has you covered. It doesn't matter if you're looking to kill a day, or you have only a few moments to get out into nature an recharge your soul....look no further. By driving 10-15 minutes from Grover Beach (Arroyo Grande), you can transport yourself a world away. A world away from the stress of "everyday life", and as much a sanctuary for us...as the animals you will share your walk with.