Distance: 4 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1292'
Elevation Gain: 1096'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.87
Round trip time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Recommended water: 16 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Fernandez Road trailhead
Leisa and I were in Paso Robles on a weekend wine tasting tour. Since the wineries don't open until late morning, we had time for a short Saturday morning hike. I really enjoyed Bishop Peak and thought the views from nearby Cerro San Luis Obispo would be great. Although I am not working on the Sierra Club Coastal Peaks list, Cerro SLO is #291 out of 302 peaks on this list. We drove south on the 101 and were the second car at the Fernandez Road trailhead. It was a brisk 52F at 6:30 AM with low clouds. Looking up, I was not sure the mountain was high enough to get us above the clouds. We started up the wide trail, following it as it curved around to the west side. As we got higher, we walked into the cloud layer and lost the early morning sun. There wasn't much to see the rest of the way up. Occasionally, the clouds would part to allow a fleeting view of surrounding peaks, but those gaps closed in seconds. The summit area has a square wooden platform with a geocache register underneath. The register was placed in the "treasure box" in late April and was already full. We continued up the final 40' bump where we found a small benchmark and an empty flag pole. I stood on the highest boulder while the wind blew the low clouds around. We were just a little shy of climbing out of the clouds. We gave up on the spectacular views that later hikers would enjoy when this stuff burned off. As we made our way down, we met a steady stream of people going up and the parking lot was almost full when we got back. This is a popular family and dog friendly hike. Driving north on the 101, we got a partial view of Bishop Peak, its head also buried firmly in a blanket of clouds.