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At the foot of the Cuesta Grade
you will find one of the best hikes in Slo County. It's about a 1.5-mile investment to make the top, but the payout is worth the trek. To begin, you are enticed into the trail by a waterfall. During this horrible drought, it's been a trickle (still more than most creeks). Catch this (the tallest waterfall in the county) spot after a good rain, and you will be rewarded with an amazing display of fluid power. Be VERY careful, especially here, about not touching the poision oak. It's off the hook in some areas.
As you make your way over the waterfall to begin your hike up the hill, you will find yourself wandering through a thick wooded canopy. At times, you forget that on of the heaviest traveled highways, is just across the canyon. The oaks and sycamores provide plenty of shade, making this section of the trail a breeze on even the hottest of days.
Eventually the canopy opens up, as you climb up into the canyon. You will be walking through chaparral that stands about 3 feet tall, when you'll notice some post-apocalyptic looking art/trash. They make for some great pictures, depending on the time of day, and lighting.
The thing that puts this hike on my list of favorites, is once you are near the top, you will find a swing. It's so fun to feel like your flying, above the canyon. Sitting on the swing, swaying to-and-fro, it's amazing the clarity of mind you can find.
Between the workout to find the top, and the swing once you get there, if you have something weighing on your mind, this is the hike to work it out.