Bike SLO County: Your Guide to Navigating the Terrain

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the trails are calling your name. San Luis Obispo County is a bicyclists dream. Whether you go off-road or stay on pavement, there is a trail for every type of cycling enthusiast. Cruise by a vineyard, smell the ocean breeze, pass under tree-lined back country roads; wherever you choose to ride be prepared for scenic, and even distracting, views. May is SLO County Bike Month so let’s get you outside to celebrate!

Mountain Bike:

Madonna Mountain Rock Garden Trail:

Located near downtown San Luis Obispo, this trail allows you to climb up above the city, past gorgeous views of SLO and its neighboring areas. Once you descend you will finally figure out where this trail got its name as you fly past varying rock shapes and sizes, and finally come to the smooth, single track finish.

Trail Head: Parking Lot at Fernandez Rd., San Luis Obispo

Length: 4.7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate


Montana de Oro State Park:

Nestle up to the Pacific Ocean as you meander among Manzanita trees and the beauty of Montana de Oro State Park. Here, you can choose from many different trails depending on your skill level and willingness to climb.

·Bluff Trail: Less strenuous trail leading you South along the bluffs of Montana de Oro.

Length: 3 miles

Difficulty: Beginner

·Islay Ridge to East Boundary: Warm up as you travel along Islay Creek Road until you reach the East Boundary Climb (aptly named “The Meat Grinder” by locals). Resist the urge to descend quickly right after you get to the top, because the true reward will be your surroundings as you twist and turn your way to the bottom.

Length: 7.8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Advanced

Trail Heads: Located off Pecho Valley Road, Los Osos


Irish Hills & Johnson Ranch w/ Connector Trail:


With this trail you don’t have to choose one or the other, you can cruise through both. Travel from the Irish Hills Natural Preserve to Johnson Ranch Open Space using the connector trail to view grassy, rolling hillsides and oak-covered ridges.

Irish Hills Trailhead: Park at the end of Madonna Road (towards Costco), San Luis Obispo

Johnson Trailhead: Intersection of South Higuera & Ontario Road, San Luis Obispo

Irish Hills Length: 10 miles

Johnson Ranch Length: 3.5 miles

Connector Trail: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Beginner – Moderate


West Cuesta Ridge:

If you want views of the entirety of San Luis Obispo County this trail is for you. West Cuesta Ridge spans through the Lost Padres National Forest and land owned by The City of San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly, and the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo. Because of this, the trail can vary but mainly features: hefty single track, hairpin turns, and, whenever there’s water, the occasional small water crossing. On the upper ridge trails is where you can enjoy panoramic views of SLO County and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Trail Head: Exit onto TV Tower Road at Summit of Cuesta Pass

Length: 10 miles

Difficulty: Moderate


Lopez Lake Area Tour

Lopez Lake Recreation Area offers sandy trails as you ride around the lake and through the campground. With 7 different trails to choose from, you can skirt the water’s edge, race down smooth single track, and gander at the Pacific Ocean. Be on the lookout for hikers and equine riders as you maneuver through this popular recreation spot.

Trail Head: Free parking located 1-mile past park entrance at the horse staging area on High Mountain Road.

Length: 15.3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult



Bob Jones City to Sea Trail:

Beginning in San Luis Obispo, follow this paved trail along SLO Creek all the way to Avila Beach. This trail will take you right through lush scenery, behind the fields of Avila Valley Barn, and along the San Luis Obispo Creek into Avila Beach.

Trail Head: Parking lot across from Ontario Rd.

Length: approx. 3 miles.

Difficulty: Beginner


Paso Robles Vineyard Route:

This circular route will have you head out Lake Nacimiento Drive and take a left onto Adelaida Road. As you twist and turn your way deeper into Adelaida wine country enjoy vineyard views, tree covered roads and beautiful west Paso Robles back country. Take Vineyard Drive to Peachy Canyon Road and end up back at the Downtown Park.

Begin: Downtown Paso Robles Park

Length: 27.5 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate


Cambria to Lighthouse:

Enjoy beautiful ocean views as you cruise along the coast to your right and San Simeon State Park to your left. No matter where you look on this route, you are sure to have beauty in your sights. If you’re lucky you might see one of Hearst Castle’s zebras or the elephant seals of Piedras Blancas as you make your way towards the lighthouse.

Begin: Moonstone Beach Park to Moonstone Beach Drive

Length: 26.6 miles

Difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate


Hi Mountain, SLO

This three section ride will take you through Edna Valley wine country, up past Lopez Dam and along Lopez Lake, and finally near the Clapboard Canyon wetlands and into a sheltered valley carved by Arroyo Grande Creek. This ride will give you a great mix of vineyard, horse ranch and quiet roads.

Begin: Tank Farm Road, SLO

Length: 41.7 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Ride to Pozo

Take a ride out to Pozo Saloon for lunch, you might need it after the 1-2 mile uphill climb that you just did. This scenic Santa Margarita trek will take you all the way into Pozo and swing you right back into town on Parkhill Road turning into Las Pilitas Road.

Begin: Santa Margarita Park

Length: 40.4 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate - Advanced

Remember these helpful tips for good riding etiquette:

  • Ride only on open trails
  • Leave no trace
  • Ride in control
  • Always yield the trail to other hikers or riders
  • Never scare animals or people
  • Plan ahead
  • Be aware


Safe Cycling!