This Saturday morning was hike number 8/52 for the 52 Hike Challenge in 2015, and 79 of my goal of 1000 miles this year. Having spent some of the best years of my life attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for my undergrad, I make an attempt to pass through or stop in the area every chance I get. I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world, and to me, there is nothing quite like the beauty of the Central Coast.
Julia, Lilly, Isla, and I left early from Southern California and arrived in Pismo Beach at about 8 am. The morning marine layer was just starting to clear as the sun broke over the beautiful green hills and vineyards along highway 101. Our first stop was at the termination of Cave Landing Road, to hike Shell Beach Bluff Trail and Ontario Ridge Trail in a loop.
Starting on Shell Beach Bluff trail was the perfect way to warm up our legs after more than 3 hours of sitting in the car. It’s a relatively flat and incredible well maintained path that runs right along the coast. The early morning views were simply stunning.
After walking to the parking lot that signifies the end of Shell Beach Bluff trail, we continued onto El Portal Dr and made our way up to Ontario Ridge. By the time we made it to Ontario Ridge, we were back into the thick of the fog that hovered over Shell Beach as it continued to pass through and burn off. It was a welcome sun block as we hiked the steep uphill to the top of the ridge.
As we arrived at the the crest of the ridge, the fog was almost completely gone from the shoreline and the views of Shell Beach were incredible.
The top of the ridge offers views to the west of the coastline and ocean. Isla and Lilly were really having fun at this point, and their muddy little paws told the whole story. This trail ends way too soon, and if time wasn’t an issue, we probably would have made two laps. Instead, we made our way towards the steep downhill to the parking lot and continued on to the Pirate’s Cove trail to visit the cave.
Maybe I’ve just forgotten things since I was last here, but the trail to Pirate’s Cove is a filthy mess. I was worried for my dogs with all of the broken glass, trash bags, beer cans and other unidentifiable garbage. Still, the views and history of the area make it worth a trip. I’ve never actually made a left at the trail junction for the “clothing optional” beach, but it’s a well known place on the Central Coast. We made a right at the trail junction towards the cave to take in one of a kind views of the Pacific Ocean.
We made it back to the car after spending some time in the cave, and began our drive up to San Luis Obispo. This was just the start of our Central Coast exploration for the weekend, and the first chapter had us feeling great.