Treadmill Rating (out of 10): 5 out of 10
Distance: 2.75 miles (loop)
Max Elevation: 750 feet
Elevation Gain: 650 feet
If you are looking for the best scenic views of Shell Beach, Avila Beach, and Pismo Beach, look no further. Ontario Ridge’s views are what I personally consider some of the most breathtaking in San Luis Obispo County. Ontario Ridge is a larger trail that encompasses a few smaller trails including the Sycamore Trail and Pirates Cove. Since this trail is a loop there are a few different trailheads that you can use to gain access to the main Ontario Ridge Trail. The total distance of the loop is about 2.75 miles. Which means this can easily be done in a very short amount of time. The inclines on this trail make it difficult but manageable by almost all skill levels.
About 1 mile into the trail (form the freeway side) you will meet up with the Sycamore Trail at the summit. You may turn around and go back the way you came or you can venture on and complete the loop. Please be aware that there are some steep areas with loose rock. Take your time and enjoy the views as you make your way down the hillside. This hike enjoys cool ocean breezes year round which makes for a wonderful hiking environment almost any day of the year. 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 single track trail with some loose rocks. Remember to take your time and you should do fine.
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