Editorial

Make the most of what SLO County offers if you're trying to get fit

If getting fit is one of your vows for 2014, there is no shortage of places in the county to fulfill it

letters@thetribunenews.comJanuary 2, 2014 

Oso Flaco Lake

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

First, we’ll give you the proverbial bad news: Only 8 percent to 10 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick with them for the entire year. (That seems a little high to us, but we’re not going to argue with Google.)

Now, on to the good news: If getting in shape is high on your list of resolutions, you’re in the right place. SLO County is a great place to get — and stay — fit. There are parks, trails, beaches, lakes, and while there is the occasional frosty morning, you won’t need nine layers of clothing to brave the great outdoors.

To give you some ideas on how to make the most of what SLO County has to offer in 2014, we enlisted the help of some current and former Tribune staffers and compiled a list of favorite outdoor adventures. So grab a water bottle, a tube of sunscreen … and we’ll see you on the trail. Happy New Year, and may you meet all the goals on your list of resolutions.

• David Middlecamp, photographer: I recommend two hikes: 1) The Reservoir Canyon trail is a wonderful walk along shady oaks and sycamores, then turns uphill for a great view over San Luis Obispo. 2) The boardwalk at Oso Flaco Lake. There is an admission charge ($5 per vehicle) but I always like to take out-of-town visitors there for a hike to the beach.

• Cynthia Lambert, reporter, South County beat: The Johnson Ranch trail just outside SLO fits my running style: hilly but not too steep; long enough (3.4 miles) to work up a good sweat but not so long that you’re sore and useless the rest of the day; and absolutely gorgeous in spring when the hills are green (when we get a few drops of rain, that is). And it’s easy to extend your run now that the connector trail to the Irish Hills preserve is complete.

If you like hills you’ll love the SLO Marathon (April 27); if you sort of like them I recommend the City to Sea half marathon (Oct. 12), which takes you from SLO to Shell Beach. If you hate them I suggest running Rock to Pier, which starts in Morro Bay and heads up the beach to Cayucos (July 14).

The Castle to Coast run on Highway 1 north of Cambria is also beautiful but sells out fast (this year’s Jan. 18 run is already full). Put it on your calendar for 2015.

• Tad Weber, former Tribune managing editor: Two of my favorite road rides are put on by the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club (http://www.slobc.org ). The Wildflower is a spring ride more than 100 miles in the rolling hills east of Templeton. The next century is the Lighthouse along the scenic North Coast in fall’s warm days. Both are good for beginners and veteran cyclists alike.

• AnnMarie Cornejo, reporter, San Luis Obispo city beat: The Harmony Headlands trail just north of Cayucos along Highway 1 is a great trail for an afternoon stroll with the family. The 1.5 mile path leads through grassland teaming with wildlife to an open view of the Pacific Ocean. Benches for enjoying the seaside view await you at the end of the journey. A great place for a family picnic.

• David Sneed, environmental reporter: If you are looking for a fun and convenient place in the San Luis Obispo area to hike and mountain bike, you can’t beat the Irish Hills. Consisting of some 1,110 acres of open space traversed by more than 10 miles of trails, you can enjoy panoramic views of San Luis Obispo and sample some of the great natural habitats in the area, including oak woodlands and serpentine chaparral. Trail heads are located at the end of Madonna Road and off Prefumo Canyon Road. The area can also be accessed from Johnson Ranch via a new connector trail. New trails are planned and they are built in interconnected loops so your workout can be as long or as short as you want.

• Stephanie Finucane, opinion editor: Maryanne Talley Fun Run, June 14. This 5-K and 10-K run through the beautiful Talley vineyard in Arroyo Grande funds scholarships for college-bound athletes graduating from AG High. Full disclosure : I’ve done this run only once, not because it isn’t great — it is — but because it was the scene of one of the more embarrassing moments in my sporadic running career.

It happened like this: I was nearing the finish line when I noticed a woman staring at me so intently that I figured she must be a long-lost friend. So what else could I do after I limped across the finish but dramatically enfold her in a great big sweaty embrace? That’s when she mumbled something about just needing to read the number safety-pinned to my shirt. Ah well. Learn from my mistake and enjoy this mostly flat run through some of South County’s finest vineyards.

• Pat Pemberton, reporter, court beat: Those interested in taking up surfing might want to try an easier, gentler beach break, like Pismo Pier, though keep in mind that winter conditions can be a little harsh. (Let beach cams and surf forecasts guide your decision to drive to the beach.) Avila Beach is usually a very calm place, with few waves, making it an ideal kayak destination. There are lots of sea lions in Avila, which, of course, means the great white you-know-whats! Plus — remember that crazy whale video from a few months ago?

As for hiking, I’d recommend Montaña de Oro for the scenery and Bishop Peak for the calves.

• Joe Johnston, photographer: A great place for kayaking is also inside the Morro Bay harbor. There’s a lot to see and do, from otters near Morro Rock, to paddling across to the sandspit and exploring the dunes, to the back bay.

I also really like the Guadalupe Dunes. Just get on Main Street in Santa Maria and head west until you get there. It has a great rugged, otherworldly feel. If you can get it on a day with light winds it’s a real treat. The powerful surf and wide vistas add to the sense of adventure. A great resource for the area is the Dunes Center in Guadalupe (http://dunescenter.org).

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