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Pismo Beach Hikes

3 views that are worth the climb

Situated in Pismo Beach along the stunning stretch of San Luis Obispo County coastline, Shore Cliff Hotel offers visitors unparalleled access to the extensive, natural beauty of California's Central Coast. With the abundance of untouched rolling hills and 80 miles of rugged coastline waiting just outside your guestroom, it should come as no surprise that hiking is a favorite pastime for visitors and locals alike here on the Central Coast—especially because of the panoramic views of the Pacific that can be reached at each peak. With Shore Cliff Hotel as your adventure headquarters, you'll soon see why the picturesque landscape surrounding our property is the idyllic backdrop for your next outdoor excursion. So, as you plan your next Pismo Beach vacation, we encourage you to experience #CentralCoasting from an entirely new perspective: from the top of three hiking trail peaks with the best views our area has to offer. 

#1: Ontario Ridge Trail (Avila Ridge)

Just a 10-minute drive from Shore Cliff Hotel, Ontario Ridge Trail (also known as Avila Ridge Trail) is located just above Avila and Shell Beach. Just over 2 miles round-trip with a rather steep incline, Ontario Ridge Trail takes you to higher elevations and spectacular views quickly—typically taking about an hour and a half from start to finish. With 675 feet of elevation change, this hike isn't for the faint of heart—you're sure to break a sweat, but trust us, the pristine views at the top are worth it. As you reach the 735-foot summit, you'll be greeted by sweeping coastal views of Avila Beach in the west and Pismo Beach in the south, which are simply breathtaking. Take a moment to breathe in the fresh ocean air and feel the cool coastal breeze against your face, you earned it!

 View of Avila Beach from the top of the Ontario Ridge trail

The view from the crest of Ontario Ridge Trail looking towards Avila Beach. Photo: (c)  The Benjamin

#2: Bishop's Peak 

Bishop’s Peak is a landmark in San Luis Obispo and one of the most popular hikes around. If you asked a local about the best hikes in the county, you’d get recommendations for Bishop’s Peak every time. It’s a moderate, 4-mile round trip that takes you to the top of one of the Nine Sisters, the series of volcanic plugs that line the Central Coast. At 1,559 feet tall, this is definitely a trek for the strong-willed. The two easily identified trailheads make it simple to find your way up, although you might catch yourself stopping for some breaks along the way up! But once you make it to the top, you’ll get an awesome view of the city of San Luis Obispo below, with a faint glimpse of the ocean in the distance.

View of Cerro San Luis from Bishop's Peak in San Luis Obispo

The view from the top looking west—overlooking the city of San Luis Obispo and facing Madonna Mountain. Photo: (c) Outdoor Project

#3: Valencia Peak

Located in beautiful Montaña de Oro State Park, Valencia Peak is just a scenic drive away from Pismo Beach, near Highway 1. As one of the highest summits in Montaña de Oro at 1,347 feet, Valencia Peak offers the best view of one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in California, overlooking the ocean dunes of Los Osos below and iconic Morro Rock in the distance. You should expect to spend about 2 hours and 45 minutes on this 4.5-mile trek as you wind through a series of switchbacks that lead to the peak. Be sure to wear sunblock and bring plenty of water, because this open trail is sure to get your heart rate up. At the top, you'll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the ocean in the west and the untouched rolling hills of the Park to the east. 

Beautiful coastal view of Morro Bay from the top of Valencia Peak in Montana de Oro

Overlooking Los Osos and the Morro Rock from the top of Valencia Peak. Photo: (c) Trail to Peak

Header Image Photo: (c) Bergreen Photography