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9 Bike Trails in San Luis Obispo
Health & Fitness

9 Bike Trails in San Luis Obispo

Get ready to experience the city of SLO from a new perspective. Check out the best bike trails of San Luis Obispo.


5 min read

March 20, 2022

Cyclists and mountain bikers love San Luis Obispo; With trails of every difficulty, length, and setting available in the county, it’s easy to see why that is the case. Whether you’re after leisurely lanes or steep inclines, ocean vistas or cityscapes, paved paths or mountainous roads, there’s a bike trail in San Luis Obispo that’ll capture your heart. Ready to pedal along S.L.O.’s magnificent vistas? These are the trails you should add to your California bike-ride bucket list.

Best San Luis Obispo County bike trails to Ride

Pedal around the South Hills Reserve and take in the beautiful views of San Luis Obispo City from above.

1. South Hills Trail

Location: South Hills Natural Reserve

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

Route: Loop

Popular among hikers and mountain bikers alike, the South Hills loop trail is great for those looking for a short adventure not too far from the city. The views of S.L.O. from this mountain bike trail are spectacular and the wildflowers lining the path make it extra scenic around springtime. It is important to note that South Hills is not a paved bike trail in San Luis Obispo; its rocky nature doesn’t allow for regular bikes to pedal along smoothly.

2. Railroad Bike Path

Location: San Luis Obispo

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.6 miles

Route: Out and back

There’s something nostalgic about biking down an empty road with your friends. Where is the best place to do that in S.L.O. you ask? The aptly named Railroad Bike Path going from the railroad station to Orcutt Road would be our best bet. This paved bike trail in San Luis Obispo County is beautiful, smooth, and easily navigable. What more could you ask for?

For a nice surprise along the way, take a detour to Terrace Hill Open Space and you’ll be met with incredible views of the town. If you have extra time to spare, this could also be a fun spot for a picnic before getting back on the road. Biking, sharing snacks, and admiring S.L.O. views—sounds like a picture-perfect outdoor date in California.

As one of the most popular mountain biking trails in S.L.O., the Lemon Grove and Rock Garden Loop Trail offers spectacular views.

3. Lemon Grove and Rock Garden Loop Trail

Location: Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.9 miles

Route: Loop

The Lemon Grove and Rock Garden Loop Trail is one of the most popular mountain bike trails in San Luis Obispo. The route starts off easy but gets steeper and rockier as you move towards the top. While the difficulty of the route may change, the views of spectacular flora and fauna remain constant throughout the ride. This mountain bike trail in San Luis Obispo doesn't get much shade though, so wearing a hat and sunscreen is highly recommended.

3. Mount Lowe Trail

Location: Los Padres National Forest

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 8 miles

Route: Out and back

Encompassing almost two million acres, Los Padres National Forest is a dream destination for adventurers. If your preferred sport is mountain biking, you’ll be spoiled for choice at this amazing national forest in California. A fan of wildflowers,  wildlife, and pretty views on every turn? The Mount Lowe trail is the best mountain bike trail in San Luis Obispo for you. While it’s rated as moderate, this cycling route will definitely make you work up a sweat—make sure you’re ready for the challenge. 

You'll be riding through beautiful nature all along the Froom Canyon loop trail. Grab your favorite adventure buddy and get pedaling!

4. Froom Canyon Trail

Location: Irish Hills Open Space

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.1 miles

Route: Loop

The Froom Canyon Trail starts out at a commercial spot in S.L.O. but wastes no time breaking into the lush wilderness right off the bat. Surrounded by greenery and rolling hills, this multi-purpose route is suitable for runners and bikers alike. The coolest part about this bike trail in San Luis Obispo is the bridges, creek crossing, and waterfalls that can be accessed on the way; take some time to stop by and admire them up close!

5. Irish Hills Open Space Loop

Location: Irish Hills Open Space

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 8.8 miles

Route: Loop

Up for a lengthier biking venture in Irish Hills Open Space? Follow the namesake 9-mile loop trail. As one of the best mountain bike trails in San Luis Obispo County, the Irish Hills Open Space loop starts with a gradual ascent and then turns into a dissenting road down to Sterling. Wildflowers and waterfalls keep you company on the trail and the rocky terrain adds a bit of a technical challenge to the ride. 

Cycle your way through the lush valleys of Los Padres National Forest—you'll be in awe at every turn.

6. West Cuesta Ridge Road to Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area

Location: Los Padres National Park

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 17.4 miles

Route: Out and back

If you like exercising with a large group, then this might be the best mountain bike trail in San Luis Obispo for you. As challenging as it is beautiful, the extensive route traveling through the prettiest portions of the Los Padres National Forest is wide enough to allow bikers, hikers, and cars to share it at once. As with other bike trails in San Luis Obispo, this one offers quite a feast for the eyes. Don’t let the vistas distract you too much; sharing the road with cars demands bikers to be extra alert at all times.

7. Cerro San Luis Perimeter Trail

Location: Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve 

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.7 miles

Route: Loop

Along With Bishop Peak, Cerro San Luis is one of San Luis Obispo's most famous natural landmarks. The summit is a part of a chain of volcanic plugs known as the Nine Sisters or Morros and attracts extreme adventurers of all kinds to its premises. Bikers and horseback riders love the Cerro San Luis Perimterer Trail for its magnificent views and lack of crowds. As far as landscapes go, this bike trail in San Luis Obispo offers a little bit of everything, from volcanic plugs to cityscapes.

The exciting twists and turns of this San Luis Obispo biking trail make it feel like you're riding a roller coaster.

8. Roller Coaster Trail

Location: Miossi Open Space

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.2 miles

Route: Loop

The constant twists and turns and fairly steep nature of this mountain bike trail in San Luis Obispo resemble a roller-coaster—hence the name. Especially thrilling if you speed through it on a bike, this awesome route in Miossi Open Space lives up to its exciting title. Ride down the Roller Coaster Trail on a mountain bike and you’ll soon understand why thrill-seekers love it so much.

9. Upper Lopez Campground via Mount Lowe Road

Location: Santa Lucia Wilderness

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 15 miles

Route: Out and back

Backpacking, camping, and hiking are a few of the activities you can enjoy on Mount Lowe Road leading to the Upper Lopez Campground. However, its reputation as one of the best mountain bike trails in San Luis Obispo is unparalleled. Albeit strenuous, this 15-mile loop trail makes up for its tiring challenges with a plethora of jaw-dropping views.

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