Some of San Luis Obispo’s most spectacular spots can only be reached on foot. Locals regard hiking in San Luis Obispo as one of the best ways to see the area’s hidden treasures. Many trails offer remarkable panoramic views, while others explore the wilderness of inland canyons, mountains, and coastline.

Discover the top 15 iconic view spots in San Luis Obispo, featured on our #ShareSLO blog.

San Luis Obispo Hikes

Bowden Ranch & Reservoir Canyon Trail

Reservoir Canyon trail is a 5.35-mile round-trip hike featuring oak groves, a waterfall, rivers, eucalyptus groves and 360-degree panoramic view from the top. Dogs are welcome on leashes, but mountain bikes are prohibited. The best views are found in Bowden Ranch, which lies adjacent to Reservoir Canyon Open Spaces.  Add to Itinerary

 

Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve

Open to both hikers and mountain bikers, Cerro San Luis, commonly known as the Madonna Mountain hike, is a moderately strenuous trail that is dog-friendly. While hiking, you will get a view of Downtown San Luis Obispo, Irish Hills, Edna Valley and more. There are three main routes including the moderate Lemon Grove Loop trail, a strenuous climb to the Mission Prep High School “M” and a moderately strenuous hike to the top. Add to Itinerary

 

Irish Hills Open Space

Irish Hills SLO Natural Reserve offers over 7-miles of trails overlooking Los Osos Valley, Cerro San Luis and Bishop Peak with a connection to Johnson Ranch Open Space. The trails are moderately difficult and welcome to both mountain bikers and leashed-dogs.  The Oceanview and Morro View Trails offers wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Add to Itinerary

 

Islay Hill

Islay Hill is a 1.8-mile hike round-trip with sweeping views of the Santa Lucia Mountains and Edna Valley. For a special photo op, you can climb onto the viewing pole at the top of the peak. Add to Itinerary

 

Johnson Ranch Open Space

Johnson Ranch Open Space is a 3.7-mile loop that explores the rolling hills of San Luis Obispo, conveniently located off the 101 Freeway. In case you are short on time, there is a shortcut that spans 2.5-miles. Johnson Ranch Open Space accommodates both mountain bikers and hikers with a connection to the Irish Hills Open Space, too. Add to Itinerary

 

Laguna Lake Park & Open Space

Laguna Lake Park is a 2-mile loop surrounding a lake with views of Cerro San Luis. Trails around this large open space are dog-friendly, making it great for the whole family including their four-legged family members. This site features a disc golf course, hiking trails and built-in exercise course. As a bonus, experience outstanding wildflowers when visiting in the spring. Add to Itinerary

Laguna Lake Park & Open Space

Laguna Lake Park is a 2-mile loop surrounding a lake with views of Cerro San Luis. Trails around this large open space are dog-friendly, making it great for the whole family including their four-legged family members. This site features a disc golf course, hiking trails and built-in exercise course. As a bonus, experience outstanding wildflowers when visiting in the spring. Add to Itinerary

 

Poly Canyon Design Village

Unique in every way, Poly Canyon Design Village is situated on Cal Poly’s campus with a 2.5-mile hike in. Commonly called Architecture Graveyard by locals, this expansive outdoor space is a hidden gem of San Luis Obispo, featuring structures and projects from past architecture students. The Serenity Swing is another must-see spot that overlooks the lush green hills, which is reachable from the Poly Canyon Design Village.  Add to Itinerary

 

South Hills Open Space

South Hills Open Space provides a 1.5 mile hike to its hilltop, just south of Downtown San Luis Obispo. Ascending 450 feet, you can quickly experience panoramic views of SLO. Add to Itinerary

 

Stenner Springs Open Space

Hikers and mountain bikers alike have made Stenner Springs Open Space their playground, adventuring through the Santa Lucia Mountains, eucalyptus groves and even by a small waterfall, spanning a total of 3.7 miles. Add to Itinerary

 

Terrace Hill Open Space

Terrace Hill Open Space is an easy 0.8 mile hike to an unobstructed plateau with scenic views of San Luis Obispo. Add to Itinerary

Hikes Near San Luis Obispo

Avila Beach

Avila Beach offers various scenic walking trails and hikes with breathtaking views of the ocean. The ever-so popular Bob Jones Trail welcomes walkers, runners, bikers and even your four-legged friends. Hike Ontario Ridge Trail to see panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can also enjoy docent-led hikes on Pecho Coast Trail with Point San Luis Lighthouse as the destination.  Add to Itinerary

Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake has a variety of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horse riding. Dog-friendly trails range from easy strolls to strenuous climbs surrounded by oak trees. Add to Itinerary

Montaña De Oro

There are trails for all kinds of enthusiasts at Montaña De Oro, including hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders. The State Park offers a range of environments including of sand dunes, eucalyptus groves, secluded stretches of beach, tall coastal peaks, and bluffs overlooking the beach and wildflowers in the Spring. If you’re looking for Montaña de Oro hiking, we highly recommend Bluff Trail and Valencia Peak. Add to Itinerary

Check out the City of San Luis Obispo’s digital tour of the Open Spaces and Trails within the city or download our San Luis Obispo trail map.

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