Attention Outdoor Enthusiasts: Explore the Many Sides of Montana de Oro

IMG_2481 (1)Named for the yellow and gold wildflowers that cover its 8,000 acres in late spring and early summer, Montana de Oro translates to Mountain of Gold. This diverse landscape offers unique coastal scenery with stunning vistas, rugged cliffs, hills, canyons, eucalyptus forests, beach access, coastal plains, wildlife, and year round mild weather making it one of the favorite Central Coast locations for outdoor enthusiasts.

Here are 5 popular ways to explore the great Montana de Oro:

1. Hiking

A peaceful way to take in Montana de Oro’s spectacular views. Walk the graded path or opt for one of the trails near the cliffs. Take a short mile hike to a picnic area and beach access – a great spot for families. Remember to bring food and plenty of water. And if you want to explore the many tide pools, bring foot protection for the kiddos as this is a rocky area.

For more of a challenge, try the Bluff Trail Walk, a four-mile hike that provides amazing coastal sights.

2. Trail running

For the more serious hikers and trail runners, take on one of the 5-mile, 8-mile, or 15.5-mile (25 kilometer) courses.

The 5-mile course has minimal elevation change and runs along the bluff while the 8-mile course will take you up to the 1,347-foot Valencia Peak with sweeping ocean views and inland mountain climbs along the way. Finally, for a maximum challenge explore the 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) course which includes the 8-mile loop plus a run to the 1,076-foot Hazard Peak.

3. Mountain biking

If wheels are your passion, mountain biking the trails of Montana de Oro offers simple to strenuous rides. A favorite is Hazard Peak as it is well built, well maintained, and a moderate challenge. You will start by heading up a sandy bluff then take in the eucalyptus grove and finally end at the beautiful viewpoint from Hazard Peak.

Another popular mountain biking trail is the East Boundary that explores a variety of Montana de Oro’s landscapes. This short 2.7-mile ride covers thick vegetation, sandy chaparral, an open grassy hillside, and water bars.

Visit Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers for more trails to explore.

4. Horseback riding

For most equestrians, a 360-degree view of the Pacific coastline from horseback is an absolute dream. Montana de Oro offers just that with a ride along the Dune Trail, Bloody Nose Trail, and Cable Trail. Bloody Nose Trail offers a ride through the beautiful eucalyptus trees while Cable Trail provides beach access to ride the sand or trot through the salty water.

Be mindful that these trails are not exclusive to equestrians and you are likely to come face-to-face with mountain bikers. For everyone’s safety be aware and know what you and your horse can handle.

5. Surfing

Montana de Oro is laden with secluded surfing spots offering a diversity of beaches and waves for a truly unique experience. Expect to do a little walking to get there via the eucalyptus forest trail. It is said that surfing Montana de Oro is not for the inexperienced. There are plenty of dangerous rocks and it is difficult to make predictions. However, for the skilled surfer it is worth the effort to experience this natural gem.

Tips for a happy visit

Montana de Oro State Park offers exquisite nature to be enjoyed, but like with all outdoor adventures remember to take precautions and be mindful of the other people around you. Please take note that:

  • Dogs are not permitted on any park trails
  • You must stay on marked trails at all times
  • Take water and snacks with you
  • Be prepared to stay longer than you may intend – accidents happen
  • Dress in layers
  • Most trails are multi-use so whether you are walking or riding be polite to others enjoying the trails alongside you
  • Trail maps can be found at the Visitors Center at the entrance to the campground at Spooner’s Cove

After exploring Montana de Oro, the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel invites you to enjoy another coastal view. Put up your feet and relax in the soft ocean breeze of Pismo Beach as you take in an ocean view from the privacy of your own balcony or patio.

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