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9 San Luis Obispo Hikes To Trek Now
Health & Fitness

9 San Luis Obispo Hikes To Trek Now

Head to S.L.O. for the breathtaking nature and stay for the hikes! Here are 9 San Luis Obispo hikes to check out.

Roubina Al Abashian

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5 min read

March 17, 2022

Living in San Luis Obispo comes with many perks. The best of them? Having the region’s spectacular nature at your fingertips at all times. Rank up your recommended 10,000 daily steps by getting up close to the verdant forests, mountainous terrains, and ocean vistas on the best San Luis Obispo hikes. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a leisurely seaside stroll or a strenuous sprint in the woods, you’ll find a hike near San Luis Obispo that’ll hit the mark.

These Are The Best Hikes In San Luis Obispo

Hike more and worry less. San Luis Obispo's beautiful trails inspire endless adventures in nature with friends.

1. Bishop Peak Trail From Patricia Drive

Location: Bishop Peak Natural Area

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.4 miles

Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

Bishop Peak is the centerpiece of San Luis Obispo’s natural landmarks. The tallest of the nine sisters, the peak stands tall at 1,559 feet and is where most people head to for a unique sunrise hiking experience. One of the best paths leading up to the peak is the Patricia Drive Trail passing through dirt roads, oak woodlands, shaded forests, and cattle ponds. Power through to the top and you’ll be treated to uncensored views of the entire S.L.O. County. 

Not only does Bishop Peak Natural Area offer one of the best hikes in San Luis Obispo, but it’s also one of the top rock climbing destinations in California. Pick your poison and get adventurous—your Bishop Peak expedition can go so many ways. 

2. Bishop Peak Trail From Highland Drive Trail

Location: Bishop Peak Natural Area

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.3 miles

Time: 2 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

If you don’t mind hiking a highly trafficked route, the Highland Drive Trail leading to Bishop Peak is an experience you’ll always remember. The most groomed of all hikes near San Luis Obispo taking you up to Bishop Peak, the Highland Drive Trail has breathtaking views that accompany you all along the way. Tackle this uphill battle and enjoy panoramic views of S.L.O. at the top. Up for an extra challenge? Pair your hiking venture with one of the best bouldering experiences in California available in the same locale.    

Good company makes the climb easier and the view more rewarding. Grab your hiking buddies and hit the best trails in San Luis Obispo.

3. Cerro San Luis Obispo Trail 

Location: Charles A. and Mary R. Open Space

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.9 miles

Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

Looking for a solid workout with exceptional views? Take the famous Cerro San Luis Obispo Trail and hike your way to the very top. Boulders, flowers, and coastal oaks line the wide and rocky trail, and a steep incline makes you work up a sweat as you head towards the finish line. Albeit beautiful and sunny, this awesome hike in San Luis Obispo, CA provides no sun protection along the way. So, wearing sunscreen, putting on a cap, and having a bottle of water in your backpack is crucial to avoid dehydration. 

4. Reservoir Canyon Loop Trail

Location: Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.4 miles

Time: 3 hours and 10 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Magnificent views, a beautiful waterfall, and rich flora and fauna—what’s not to love about the Reservoir Canyon Loop Trail? Take your pooch along on a leash and enjoy one of the best hikes in San Luis Obispo as you meander across fields of wildflowers and verdant vistas. As challenging as it is rewarding, this incredible trail in Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve will have you coming back for a second round.

Is there anything more satisfying than finishing your hike with a killer view? We love looking at S.L.O. from above.

5. Lemon Grove and Rock Garden Loop

Location: Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.9 miles

Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

The popular Lemon Grove and Rock Garden Loop starts pretty easy and gets steeper with every mile. While this is a beautiful day hike in San Luis Obispo County any time of year, it gets especially gorgeous during spring when the wildflowers come to bloom and the sky allows better views of the surrounding nature. Keep in mind that this is a famous mountain biking trail as well, so prepare to share the road with a large number of cyclists. 

6. M Trail Loop

Location: Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.5 miles

Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Primarily used for hiking and nature trips, the M Trail Loop is one of the most popular Madonna hikes in San Luis Obispo. Short, sweet, and moderately challenging, this family-friendly hiking trail is an ideal option for an active day out in nature. Many SLOcals trek this trail before or after work—go midday if you’d like to avoid crowds.

Make new memories with your family as you hike along the most beautiful trails in San Luis Obispo.

7. Johnson Ranch Loop Trail

Location: Johnson Ranch Open Space

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes

Do you want your kids to become hiking enthusiasts just like you? Choose the Johnson Ranch Loop Trail-Short Loop for your next family outing and let the little ones appreciate nature all by themselves. As one of the best hikes near San Luis Obispo, the Johnson Ranch Loop Trail exposes visitors to rolling grasslands, oak woodlands, coastal scrubs, serpentine rock outcrops, and riparian communities. 

Pet-parents aren’t excluded from enjoying this hike near San Luis Obispo either; Letting your dog run around without a leash is totally acceptable at Johnson Ranch Open Space.

8. Mount Lowe Trail

Location: Los Padres National Forest

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 4 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

If you’re the type of hiker who likes to stop and snap photos every once in a while, then Mount Lowe Trail is the best hike in San Luis Obispo for you. A wide range of vistas grace the trail—on a clear day, you can see all the way from Morro Bay to Oceano. But don’t let the picturesque views distract you too much because mountain bikers zooming along the road might knock you out if you’re not careful.

The Felsman Loop Trail is one of our favorite hikes in S.L.O. Make traversing it a part of your weekly exercise routine.

9. Felsman Loop Trail

Location: Ferrini Ranch Open Space

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.4 miles

Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: On leash

Looking for a quick day hike in San Luis Obispo County? The Felsman Loop Trail is a perfect option to consider. With a few challenging slopes, the trail is demanding enough to get your heart pumping without prompting you to stop and head back. Just as you pass a pond along this hike in San Luis Obispo, you’ll be met with views of S.L.O. on one side and Morro Bay on the other. Plus, the lush mix of shaded oak groves dotting the trail ensures that you won’t have to battle the blazing sun at any point in time either.  

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