Outdoors

SLO County Hike of the Week: Montaña De Oro’s Hazard Peak

Despite the ominous name, the path to Hazard Peak in the midst of Montaña De Oro State Park is a quiet and relaxing hike. Stunning views — like of Morro Rock in the distance — and a continual ocean breeze make it a great escape from the heat during the summer months in SLO County.
Despite the ominous name, the path to Hazard Peak in the midst of Montaña De Oro State Park is a quiet and relaxing hike. Stunning views — like of Morro Rock in the distance — and a continual ocean breeze make it a great escape from the heat during the summer months in SLO County. lbuck@thetribunenews.com

The trail: Hazard Peak Trail. From San Luis Obispo, take Los Osos Valley Road for approximately 7 miles. Go south on Pecho Valley Road for 2.2 miles to the trailhead.

Distance: 6 miles round trip. There are options to add additional loops onto your trip via the Manzanita and East Boundary trails.

Difficulty: Moderate. While a bit lengthy, the trail is stable and inclines are gradual. For the more aerobically inclined, this hike makes a safe and steady running trail.

Tips: Wear ample sunscreen and a hat, as there is little shade to be found. Don’t wander off the trail: Montaña de Oro State Park is a fragile ecosystem, and poison oak lurks throughout the park. Pack a swimsuit so you can wash off the trail dust in the idyllic Spooner’s Cove after your hike.

Dogs: Fido will have to stay home, but horses are welcome. (Related note: There is tangible evidence that horses frequent the trail, so watch your step.)

Parking: Ample parking can be found near the trailhead on Pecho Canyon Road just before you reach Spooner’s Cove.

Facilities: There are a few benches along the trail and picnic tables at the summit if you would like to enjoy a snack as you take in the views. Restrooms are located near the park’s visitor center and park headquarters at the old Spooner Ranch house.

Description: Despite the ominous name, the path to this peak in the midst of Montaña De Oro State Park is a quiet and relaxing hike. Stunning views and a continual ocean breeze make it a great escape from the heat during the summer months. The trail begins with a steady plod on a sandy trail that is in good condition but narrow enough that in places you will have to brush through high grass leaning over your path. After you pass through a small eucalyptus grove, you will begin the slow and steady ascent with preliminary views of Morro Rock before turning south to face Valencia Peak. After a sharp left, you will find yourself on the east side of the mountain, swapping ocean views for canyon vistas as you navigate the trail beside a steep drop. Keep your ears open to listen for mountain bikers, who should be equipped with a bell. The journey is so gradual that it is almost a surprise when you reach the 1,076-foot summit. Looking north, you will see unparalleled views of Morro Bay and the estuary. After you’ve rested and taken in the sights, you can head back the way you came, or continue onto the Manzanita trail and explore the interior of Montaña de Oro.

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