The trail: Lemon Grove Loop. Coming from downtown San Luis Obispo, head southeast on Higuera Street and turn right onto Marsh Street. Drive under the Highway 101 overpass, and turn right into a gravel parking lot near the trailhead.
Distance: 2.2-mile loop.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. After a surprisingly steep incline over the first half-mile, the trail levels out for the next mile and makes for an easy trek.
Tips: With very little shade, a water bottle and sunscreen are both recommended, depending on the time of day.
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Dogs: Dogs are allowed, but they must remain on leash.
Parking: The lot at the base of the trailhead provides plenty of free parking.
Facilities: No public restrooms, but a small bike rack is available.
Description: Located just a few blocks from downtown San Luis Obispo, the Lemon Grove Loop wraps through an abandoned lemon grove and offers remarkable views of the bustling city below.
With roughly 300 feet of elevation gain, it’s one of the easier hikes in town, and the high number of people using it on a weekday morning seemed to reflect that. After a steep climb to start, a welcoming bench is tucked between patches of prickly pear cacti. Continuing upward, the trail takes you directly to the well-known Mission Prep School “M” that can be seen from downtown. There are signs posted directing hikers not to climb further than the “M,” which makes for a rewarding end to the ascent. Head back down the same path to return to the parking lot.