Need to get out of the "city" for a moment of zen? Want to take a walk amongst the oaks, but don't have much time? The trail network along James way in Arroyo Grande is the perfect spot. Simply pull over to the side of the road, and you're instantly transported to a time when Oaks dominated the landscape. Their are several options for the size of loop you do, and how much is actually amongst the oaks. This wooded area is one of the most underrated "secret spots" on the central coast.
El Chorro Regional Park has many wonderful areas to explore. This park offers a little something for everyone. Botanical gardens, areas to play sports (volleyball, golf, baseball), a garden area, and the thing that attracted me today...hiking. This space was once used by Camp San Luis, as a practice area. Prior to the military taking control, this was pasture/grazing land for cattle. In 1972, the government returned this portion of the land, back to San Luis Obispo County.
This park is a wonderful place for kids, with this hike only adding to the adventure. This trail increases in elevation fast enough to provide a spectacular view, but gradually enough that you'll be able to enjoy the summit without fighting to catch your breath. It's a bit over a mile to the top, so expect to set aside a little over an hour (depending on how long it takes you spend at the top) to make the entire loop.
Once you exit Highway 1, follow Dairy Creek Road about a half-mile. You will need to park in the designated parking area, and walk to the trail head about .2 miles north of the parking lot. You will see the pedestrian gate, along with some brochures to help you learn about the surrounding area. These are a wonderful addition for those looking to slow down and "smell the roses", and are meant to be returned once you have completed your trek to Eagle Rock. With this information you will learn about the different ecology, plants and wildlife, that make this area special.
Just over a half-mile up the trail, you will need to bear right to reach the Eagle Rock Viewpoint. The stunning view, which opens up before you, will reveal the nine morros. From Morro Bay in the north, to Islay Hill in the south, the vista is breathtaking. In my opinion, this is the perfect hike to show people what the "outdoor lifestyle" in San Luis Obispo County is all about. Whether you have friends who have an aversion to the word "hike", or know someone curious about what makes SLO the "happiest town", this is the perfect hike.
After soaking in the panoramas (and posting them to Instagram), head back down the path to the junction. Just as before, keep to the right. You will complete the loop by walking through the Elfin Woods. You're not going to spot Legolas, but you will have plenty of shade as you walk beside Dairy Creek (which until the drought, ran all year) to the sound of water (when nature blesses us with more rain).
Easy to hike so you're not wiped out by the end. Amazing views of the dormant volcanoes that define our landscape. Self-guided tours to educate you on the area. You really can't ask for much more out of a short hike. Head to El Chorro Regional Park the first chance you get, and I'm sure you'll agree.
One of the "hidden" gems of the Central Coast, is Oso Flaco Lake. With a boardwalk that crosses over the top of Oso Flaco, on it's way to the shoreline, this is the perfect spot to experience nature. Handicapped accessible (due to this being an ecologiccally sensitive area, leave your dog at home), and the low-impact walk, make it suprising how few visitors this area receives each year.
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.
San Luis Obispo Blog
We look to provide ideas to get folks away from the couch, and out exploring California. We aim to provide day-trips. We want to provide suggestions of things to do, in a single day. Whether you're from out-of-town, or looking to get to know the our magnificent section of California (and beyond) a little better....we want to inspire you to explore.