The trail: Cerro Alto Trail
Distance: About 5 miles round-trip with a couple variations
Difficulty: 6.5, with the most difficult part of the hike coming in the last mile and a half to the top.
Tips: The hike is challenging enough to demand hiking poles and snacks and water are a must. Look for a sign reading “Los Padres National Forrest Campground; Cerro Alto.”
Dogs: Dogs are allowed but must remain on a leash.
Parking: Don't be fooled by the first parking lot when you pull in. Continue to drive past it and look for the lot where the road dead ends. You will need to pay $10 for a day pass if you want to hike.
Facilities: There are multiple pit bathrooms, drinking water and campground facilities scattered near the trail heads. If you want to camp it’s $20 a night.
Description: Located in the middle of Route 41 about half way between Morro Bay and Atascadero, the Cerro Alto Trail is challenging, but on a clear day, it offers the best views in the county. At the 2,642-foot summit, every major SLO County landmark is visible. There are a couple ways to the top; the steep, short route of about two miles (with the trail head in the middle of the campground across Morro Creek) and the gradual, more scenic route of 2.75 miles (that trail head is in the back by the parking lot). We recommend taking the long way up and the short way down. The trails are well marked and well worth it.