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Hiking: San Luis Obispo

Peak Views of City, Bay and the Rock

September 28, 1997|JOHN McKINNEY

Bishop Peak is one of a chain of seven volcanic peaks that extends from the city of San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay.

In 1980, 150 acres of the upper ramparts of Bishop Peak were donated to the California State Parks Foundation. Part of the lower part of the peak, known as Ferrini Ranch Open Space, is under the stewardship of the San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department.

Bishop Peak was named by the padres of Mission San Luis Obispo because the three stony points on the peak resembled the headpiece of Bishop San Luis.

From the granite crown of the 1,546-foot peak, hikers get grand views of the pastoral, Hereford cow-dotted countryside, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus, downtown San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and, of course, Morro Rock.

This climb is a popular workout with the local college students. It's a climb: The last third is trail-less boulder scrambling.

Directions to trail head: From U.S. 101 in San Luis Obispo, take the California Highway 1 / Santa Rosa Street exit. Turn right onto Santa Rosa Street. Proceed to the fourth stoplight. The entrance to the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus is on your right, but you'll turn left onto Highland Drive and travel about a mile to its end at the signed trail head.

The hike: Begin on a decomposed granite path through an oak woodland. After a short quarter-mile, you'll emerge from the woods into an open meadow.

The trail leaves behind the cows and cow pond and climbs in earnest straight up the eastern slope of Bishop Peak. You'll pass a popular rock climbing area and switchback up to the limits of the city-owned open space and the end of the maintained trail. Choose among several routes that wind through the boulders to the top of Bishop Peak.

Enjoy the grand coastal panorama from the pine forested headlands of Cambria to the Nipomo Dunes to Point Sal.


Bishop Peak Trail

WHERE: Outskirts of San Luis Obispo.

DISTANCE: 2 miles round trip.

TERRAIN: Rocky, oak-dotted volcanic peak.

HIGHLIGHTS: Grand central coast vistas.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: short, but strenuous.

PRECAUTIONS: Descending peak's boulders can be even more difficult than climbing them.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: City of San Luis Obispo Parks Department; tel. (805) 781-7300.

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