Treadmill Rating (out of 10): 4 out of 10
Distance: 2 miles (round trip)
Max Elevation: 750 feet
Elevation Gain: 650 feet
With the majestic and unique coastal views coupled with the beautiful tree covered trail this is easily one of my favorite coastal lunch hikes on the Central Coast of California. I mentioned it as a lunch hike because this hike will only take 45-90 minutes to complete.. The hike begins in one of the most beautiful areas anywhere in California, Sycamore Mineral Springs near Avila Beach. There are several patches of manzanita trees which turn a nice red color in different seasons of the year. The hike is a short 10 minute drive from San Luis Obispo nestled in the coastal range just on the other side of Avila Beach and Palisades. Free parking is available in the Sycamore Mineral Springs parking lot. The trailhead is up the road from the main office. The trailhead can be hard to locate, but simply walk up the driveway next to the office and continue following it until the paved road it dead ends and turns into a dirt road. There will be a tail marker at the dead end of the paved road.
The hike is about 1 mile from the parking lot to the summit where the trail connects to the Ontario Ridge Trail. From the summit you may take in the beautiful ocean view looking down on Palisades, Port San Luis, and Avila beach. You may turn around and head back down or you may continue your journey on the Ontario Ridge Trail. On a clear day you can see all the way to Point Sal near Santa Maria. Again, this is one my favorite hikes mainly because of the cool coastal breeze and the views.
The hike is fairly difficult for most of the way, but I have taken my kids on the trail and they were able to get to the top. I highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for a quick hike with a big payoff at the top. Remember to take your camera, you will want to take pictures of the unique vantage point at the top.
HOW TECHNICAL IS THE HIKE?
The hike isn’t very technical. Most of the hike is on a well maintained dirt road used to service the cell towers on Ontario Ridge. There are a few steep spots and some small areas of some loose rocks, but this is a hike I have taken my children on and I have actually pushed a baby stroller up most of the trail.
This hike is well suited for hikers of all skill levels and all ages. I highly recommend this hike to families. There are some great spots along the hike to stop, take a break, eat a sack lunch, and take in the beauty of the Central Coast of California.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
The weather is wonderfull year round. There can be more fog and overcast conditions during the summer, but you can hit this hike year round.
Make sure you are in good physical condition for this hike. It may be a relatively short hike but you have to remember there is almost 700 feet of elevation gain in a short distance. Take it slowly if you are not in good shape. Make sure you take your time on the way down to avoid injuring your knees or ankles.
Water, good walking/hiking shoes, hat, camera, day pack, food/snacks.
Sycamore Trailhead Map