The easiest way to get outdoors in the central coast is to grab your boots and go hiking!
My favorite hiking spot so far, and a pretty close one if you live in SLO, is Montana de Oro. Located just south of Los Osos, this “Mountain of Gold” has many different trails, all with breathtaking views of the coast and surrounding hills.
To get there, take Los Osos Valley road about twelve miles until it bends south and turns into Pecho Valley Road. The trails are located all along this road.
One trail to try in particular is Bluff Trail, which is a little bit further down Pecho Valley Road. It is a fairly easy hike along the cliffs and the jagged coastline creates absolutely spectacular views. There are sea stacks and sea arches all throughout the trail. There are also spots along the trail where you can climb down the layers of rocks and walk along the beach. If the tide is low, you may be able to find some sea caves lining the bottoms of the cliffs. Be careful to watch the tide.
When I hiked this trail, I found it very easy and there are benches throughout the hike to rest and enjoy the view from if you get tired. Bluff trail is a great hike for all ages and a great spot for taking pictures.
If you drive a little further down past Bluff trail to the end of the road you will find yourself on PG&E land. Here you may be able to hike on Point Buchon trail, which offers the most stunning views of all of the Montana de Oro trails. The trail is open from 8am to 4pm, and is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you plan on hiking Point Buchon trail, make sure to leave enough time to sign in at the gatehouse at the foot of the trail and sign back out before 3:45pm.
If you’re looking to go camping, try Spooner’s Cove. It is a popular site for beachgoers, surfers, and scuba divers. Campsites are located just across from Spooner’s Cove. For divers, Spooner’s is a fantastic dive on a good day and there are lots of rocks covered with life at about 30-40ft but there are pretty strong swells so make sure to check conditions before going in. If you just want to spend the day, there are day facilities available for use and there is lots of beach side parking available.
The best time to visit Montana de Oro is on warm, sunny days, but bring a light jacket as it can often get chilly and windy.