Treadmill Rating (out of 10): 4 out of 10
Distance: 2.81 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 450 feet
One of my favorite training hikes for trail running or for just a fun hike with the family is Irish Hills in San Luis Obispo. Irish Hills is officially the area of the hike which is made up of multiple hiking and mountain biking trails. The network of trails is extensive and lots of fun to explore. However, for the purpose of this post we will focus on the Mariposa Trail and the King Trail on Irish Hills.
This hike is extremely well maintained with several little bridges and lots of shade. It is a fun hike to take the family to enjoy the unique views of San Luis Obispo. The hike is very easy to find with multiple trail heads to get you started on the trail. My favorite starting location is the parking lot near the gas station at the Costco in San Luis Obispo. I usually take this route because it is an easy location to meet others. There is another trail head at the end of Madonna Road.
Please be aware that there may be some poison oak along the way. If you stay in the middle of the trail, and keep the kids in the center of the trail, there shouldn’t be any problems. As I mentioned before, I use this trail as a training trail and I run it a few times each month and I have never had a problem with the poison oak.
The typical loop that I explore takes about 35-45 minutes while running, expect that a normal walking hike will take around an hour or longer so please plan accordingly.
WHERE IS THIS TRAIL?
There are several trail heads for this network of trails. The easiest is the trail head at the Costco parking lot, or there is also a nicely marked trail head at the end of Madonna Road.
HOW TECHNICAL IS THE HIKE?
Overall the hike is not technical. There are a few sections where it gets a little steep but the steep sections are not that long, maybe 400 yards of steep terrain. There are some single track sections where it is necessary to walk in single file if there are multiple people, but the sections are not technical at all.
I would honestly say that anyone in relatively good shape can handle this hike. Kids under the age of 6 may require a parent to carry them since it is a longer hike. But, little kids shouldn’t have any problems keeping up with the parents on this hike. Just make sure to keep them in the center of the trail to avoid any poison oak.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
The awesome part about this hike is the geographic location. I would recommend this hike anytime of the year. The weather is almost perfect year round in San Luis Obispo. This hike gets nice breezes coming in through the Los Osos Valley making it a great hike at almost any time of the day.
There isn’t any special training advice for this particular hike. Just make sure you are in good enough physical shape to go on a 2-3 mile hike with mild elevation gain.
GEAR LIST (day hike)
Water, good walking/hiking shoes, hat, camera, water, food/snacks for the kids.