Take A Hike: 3 Central Coast Trails to Hike This Fall

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By: Samantha Sales

Currently, over 300,000 people claim the Central Coast to be home, and for many reasons: great weather, friendly people, a brilliant mix of land and water, and thousands of opportunities to stay active and healthy. In Paso Robles, any back-country road can serve as a beautiful hike or challenging bike ride, but these following trails are some of the local favorites.

Long Valley Loop @ Lake San Antonio

Fast Facts

Trail Length: 7.1 miles

Highest Elevation: 1,115 feet

Trail Type: Loop, dirt road

Difficulty: Moderate

Lake San Antonio is home of one of the biggest triathlons in the world – Wildflower: The One and Only. It serves as a magnificent race spot because of the great weather, challenging course, and close amenities. For these reasons, it is also a great place to spend a local weekend getaway. Even if it is just for the day. The drive out to Lake Valley Loop is beautiful and so you’ll want to take a camera if you’ve never been.

Just along the south side of the lake alone there is over 26 miles of hiking and dirt bike trails, not to mention the countless areas you can explore on your own. The area is chock full of gentle deer, countless birds, and beautiful sunsets. If you forgot to bring snacks, water, a bathing suit, or anything else, you can always stop by the marina grocery store located next to the boat drop off.

You can easily make a hiking, or mountain biking, weekend out of this area – a great “stay-cation” for locals! For information on camping, boating, or trails near Lake San Antonio visit http://lakesanantonioresort.com/camping.html

Oak Knoll and Quail’s Roost Trail @ Lake Nacimiento

Fast Facts

Trail Length: 1.5 miles

Highest Gain: 100 feet

Trail Type: Out and Back

Difficulty: Easy

This trail, nestled not too far from Lake San Antonio, also provides breathtaking views of Lake Nacimiento and the Nacimiento Dam. This pleasant leisure trail should only take you about 45 minutes, which is great for the beginner hiker. Not far from the trail is a local grocery store, Oak Hill Market, which serves delicious, fresh made deli sandwiches and specialty products that are great for the barbeque.

On your way to the trail, grab a sandwich from this local grocery store—my personal favorite is the Teeny Bikini—and fill up the car with gas so that you can go a scenic drive after the hike. The trail is located just past the market on your way in, so grab some snacks and enjoy part of the 165-mile shoreline of the area.

Salinas River Parkway @ Larry Moore Park

Fast Facts

Trail Length: 2.2 miles

Highest Gain: 80 feet

Trail Type: Out and Back

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate


If you are looking for a trail that can accommodate the whole family, including your dog, this trail is it! With mixed terrain it provides a good amount of sidewalk, dirt, and oak groves and is located in a safe area just off the101 freeway. It includes a short stint through a residential area, where a cul-de-sac serves as the turn around for the trail.

The trail is used year round and is most popular in the early mornings and evenings. The short trail offers beautiful fall colors, birds, and other wildlife, but is conveniently located just a few miles from the City Park.

For more information on these, and other trails, please visit Paso Parks and Trails and Must-Do Hikes for Everyone By Brian Milne.

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