The trail: Stadium Park, in Atascadero. From San Luis Obispo, travel north on Highway 101 for about 15 miles. Take exit 219 for Highway 41, keep left at the fork and follow signs for Highway 41/Morro Bay Road. Turn left onto El Camino Real, right onto Highway 41, and the park will be to the south after 0.2 miles.
Distance: Approximately 2-mile loop, depending on the route.
Tips: You’ll probably want to bring some water and a hat and sunscreen for protection from the elements.
Dogs: Allowed on a leash.
Parking: There are several ways to access the park, with parking lots at both the north and south ends of the park with ample space. Lots to the north include a park and ride on Highway 41, a lot on Capistrano Avenue across the street from Atascadero Middle School. There is also a small lot to the south on Pinal Avenue.
Facilities: There’s no water provided, but there are a number of benches interspersed throughout the park, in addition to provided pet-waste bags.
Description: With a number of different entry points and two different main trails, there are ample ways to enjoy hiking this wooded city park. I started off my hike on the north end of the park and the Blue Oak Trail. The wide dirt pathway winds through forestland and surprisingly lush, grassy open areas. There’s a slight climb to the southern portion of the park, where you can connect with the Pine Mountain Loop. This portion of the trail is a bit more open and exposed as it makes its way to the top point of the park. The trails are a bit more rocky and uneven and feature some steep terrain.
Once you reach the top, you’re afforded views into Atascadero to the northwest and the rolling hills south to the Santa Margarita ranch and east to Shandon. My route took me back down through more oak-lined trails that descend on switchbacks to the main entrance. This is a perfect hike for Atascadero residents who are looking for a quick escape in their own backyard. And if you don’t want to do the whole loop, with benches throughout the park, it’s a great place for a quick lunchtime walk.