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.
From the parking lot, you'll walk abpout 1/8 of a mile, through dense vegitation. Arroyo Willows, Cottonwood, Wax Myrtle, Hookers Primrose, Stinging Nettle, and Poison Oak are just a few species you'll see along side the trail. Keep in mind, a few of the plants can make life miserable. A good rule of thumb is to stay in the middle of the trail, and if it's a plant....don't touch it.
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.
When you hear running water, you know you're close to the boardwalk (on your left). There are several benches along the Oso Flaco Lake Boardwalk, from which you can sit back and take it all in. While you're walking across the top of the lake, keep a lokout for the Ducks, Swans, Swallows, Muskrats, Herons, Wrens, and many MANY other types of wildlife that calls this place home (or a pit stop along their journeys). There is also a picnic table over the top of the water. Imagine the selfies you could take, while sipping wine and eating lunch over the top of this picturesque lake. All kidding aside, make sure you have plenty of space on your device, because you'll want to take a million shots.
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.
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.
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.