Outdoors

SLO County Hike of the Week: Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area

The top of the Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area hike offers sweeping views. Looking to the west, hikers can see from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay.
The top of the Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area hike offers sweeping views. Looking to the west, hikers can see from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay. ditel@thetribunenews.com

The trail: Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area

Distance: Approximately 6 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: East to start; difficult for the final mile to the top (loose rocks, rough terrain, steep inclines).

Tips: Definitely bring water and a snack. I ran it and definitely could have used a drink at the top. Sunblock, or a good hat, is also a necessity as there’s not much shade. A hiking pole could also be helpful on some of the more uneven terrain, especially as you reach the summit.

Dogs: Yes (but make sure they’re ready for a climb).

Parking: Plenty of space at the West Cuesta Ridge Trailhead.

Facilities: No bathrooms, garbage

Description: From the trailhead on the west side of Highway 101 at the Cuesta Pass, head up Forest Route 29S11, known as TV Tower Road. Follow the road, which starts off paved for the first few switchbacks but quickly deteriorates to mostly gravel. The oak and eucalyptus forest shrouding the path quickly gives way to scrub brush, and that’s when the sweeping views dominate the scenery. Not long into the hike, you can easily see all the way to Pismo Beach and the Nine Sisters to Morro Bay. A mile in, stay right at the fork for an intense two-mile incline up to the TV towers for amazing panoramic views.

Dan Itel, ditel@thetribunenews.com

Hiking is a huge part of life here in San Luis Obispo County. As part of Tuesday’s weekly Outdoors section, The Tribune staff will profile an area hike in a feature we’re calling SLO County Hike of the Week.

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