ADVENTURING MADE EASY
CONTENTS INTRO / 3 MAPS / 4 TRAILS / 12 BEACHES / 68 DOG BEACHES / 102 BONFIRE SPOTS / 104 HAMMOCKING / 106 MOUNTAIN BIKING / 108 SURFING / 110 FISHING / 112 CAMPING / 114 RENTALS + ADVENTURE TOURS / 122 SAFETY INFO / 130 FIELD NOTES / 136
INTRODUCTION TIME FOR A NEW ADVENTURE! This pocket guide contains a collection of information about outdoor activities in and around San Luis Obispo, California. In it you can find suggestions and tips on hiking, camping, kayaking, biking, and more. The content is based on our personal experiences and information gathered from multiple sources. We hope this little resource is helpful and that it encourages you to explore new places!
GUIDE TO THE ICONS Orange or blue = Yes, available or accessible Gray with slashes = No, not available or accessible
Left to right: Dogs, Sunrise/Sunset vista point, Mountain biking, Hammocking, Fishing, Camping, Bonfires
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T R A I LS 12 trails
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HARMONY HEADLANDS LOCATION Harmony Headlands State Park, 4500 CA-1, Cayucos DISTANCE 4.5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 135 feet TIME 2 hours Harmony Headlands State Park preserves 784 acres along Californiaâ€™s Central Coast between Cayucos and Cambria. Setting out from Highway One, a gradual 4.5 mile lollipop loop through the park crosses a coastal valley to reach picturesque ocean bluffs. The easy bench-lined hike ascends about 85 feet up a wide dirt road before descending 135 feet to the coast where a footpath can be used to explore the rugged oceanfront.
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ESTERO BLUFFS LOCATION Estero Bluffs State Park, CA-1, Cayucos
To find Estero Bluffs State Park, drive north on Highway 1 from Cayucos and look for parking areas about four miles from town.
DISTANCE 5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 150 feet TIME 2 hours 15 minutes Estero Bluffs State Park features flat open trails with expansive views of the bay and Morro Rock in the distance. The rocky coastline here is filled with tide pools and is a favorite habitat for otters and harbor seals, who like to play just offshore. You can access the ocean by scrambling down a trail near San Geronimo Creek and can then walk at the waterâ€™s edge or stroll along the sand. The coastline features several pocket coves. To get from one to the other, you have to navigate some tidal rocks, but itâ€™s nothing too difficult. The bluff trail is decorated with wildflowers in the spring, and the park is always a prime spot for capturing sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. This is a great spot for a picnic either on the bluffs or in one of the coves.
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HANG GLIDER HILL LOCATION 448 Chaney Ave, Cayucos DISTANCE 1 mile ELEVATION CHANGE 359 feet TIME 20 minutes This popular hang glider launch area offers sweeping views overlooking the Pacific Ocean from Cayucos to Morro Bay. Easy to access on foot or with an off-road vehicle, Hang Glider Hill allows visitors to watch hang gliders take off and descend the hillside effortlessly. Watching the sunset here makes the relatively steep climb worth it.
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CERRO ALTO LOCATION Cerro Alto Campground, CA-41, Morro Bay DISTANCE 5.35 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1600 feet TIME 3 hours 15 minutes The 2,624 foot summit of Cerro Alto is one of the highest points in San Luis Obispo County and delivers a panoramic view. It seems like you can see the entire county from the top of the commanding peak, including each of the volcanic peaks stretching between Morro Bay and Edna Valley, the Nine Sisters.
*A day use fee is required for parking at the Cerro Alto Trailhead.
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BLACK HILL LOCATION Morro Bay State Park, Upper State Park Rd, Morro Bay DISTANCE 0.6 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 190 feet TIME 15 minutes Of the nine volcanic plugs (known as the “Nine Sisters”) in San Luis Obispo County, Black Hill is the easiest to summit. This 661 foot volcanic peak in Morro Bay State Park can be reached by hiking 0.6-miles round trip up a dirt single track with 190 feet of elevation gain and views over the city of Morro Bay. For those looking for more, there are longer hikes to the summit starting farther down Black Hill.
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ELFIN FOREST LOCATION The Elfin Forest Natural Area, 1103 Santa Lucia Ave, Los Osos DISTANCE 1.5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE none TIME 20 minutes The Elfin Forest is between the two towns of Los Osos and Morro Bay. It is in the El Morro Elfin Forest Natural Area that is a 90 acre refuge and has a mile of wooden boardwalks with a couple of viewing platforms. It has dense areas of unique 500 year old pygmy oaks and the reserve sits on top of an ancient sand dune along the southwestern shore of Morro Bay.
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MORRO DUNES LOCATION Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve, Broderson Ave and Highland Dr, Los Osos DISTANCE 2.5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE none TIME 1 hour 30 minutes This hike loops into the northern section of Montaña de Oro State Park and has a large variety of terrain. If you don’t want to do the entire loop, the first part of the trail is easy to navigate 26 trails
and is perfect for an out-and-back dog walk that provides cool views of Morro Bay. The trail’s highest point, about 800 feet above sea level, provides an amazing panoramic view of Los Osos Valley. There are some tricky narrow spots with high walls formsed by rainwater, and the trail gets steep once you enter Montaña De Oro. Dogs are allowed in the Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve portion of the trail, but not in the Montaña de Oro State Park portion.
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HAZARD PEAK LOCATION MontaĂąa De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos DISTANCE 6 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 950 feet TIME 3 hours Looking north from this coastal 1,076 foot summit, you wonâ€™t see anything even half as tall as Hazard Peak for about 15 miles, giving you a full view of the dune-lined coast backed by the iconic Morro Rock. Hazard Peak (named after a previous landowner, Alexander Hazard, and not for some grand danger) has 360-degree views that extend west over the Pacific and east and south over the Irish Hills.
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VALENCIA PEAK LOCATION Montaña De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos DISTANCE 4.5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1275 feet TIME 2 hours 45 minutes At 1,347 feet, Valencia Peak is one of the highest summits in Montaña de Oro State Park and may provide the best panorama of the park’s stunning shoreline and inviting inland peaks.
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BLUFF TRAIL LOCATION MontaĂąa De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos DISTANCE 3.25 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 100 feet TIME 1 hour 15 minutes Bluff Trail is a level coastal trail suitable for hikers, bikes, and wheelchairs with a host of side trails that allow for outings between one and five miles. A hike of around three miles round trip with 90 feet of elevation change is the perfect way to see all the tide pools, beaches, rock islands, and natural bridges, along the superb coastline of MontaĂąa De Oro State Park, hitting highlights like Corallina Cove, Quarry Cove, and Grotto Rock.
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COON CREEK LOCATION Montaña De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos DISTANCE 5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 250 feet TIME 2 hours 30 minutes Coon Creek Trail explores a coastal canyon at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park. The trail heads inland for 2.5 miles to a pleasant grove of Monterey cypress at the site of an old homestead 34 trails
that has since disappeared. Take a break in the shade of the cypress trees before turning around for a 5 mile round trip hike with 250 feet of elevation gain. Junctions with Rattesnake Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail allow hikers to explore even more of MontaĂąa de Oro State Park.
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POINT BUCHON LOCATION Montaña De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos DISTANCE 6.6 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 350 feet TIME 3 hours Point Buchon Trail offers some of the most scenic views of the Central Coast coastline, perfectly preserved and protected. The trail is a 6.6 mile round trip hike located on the northern end of PG&E property and is accessed through Montaña de Oro State Park. This scenic coastal trail has been open to the public since 2007 and is known for its panoramic views of beautiful headlands and off-shore sea stacks. The trail is open Thursday through Monday, year -round.
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EAST CUESTA RIDGE LOCATION US-101 and Mt Lowe Rd, Santa Margarita DISTANCE 10.2 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1075 feet TIME 4 hours 15 minutes East Cuesta Ridge Road, also known as Mount Lowe Road, is a dirt road that crosses the dominant ridgeline in the Santa Lucia Mountains northeast of San Luis Obispo. Views from the trail extend over San Luis Obispo and its surrounding peaks toward the ocean to the west at Morro Bay and to the south by Oceano Dunes.
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STENNER CREEK LOCATION 2635 Stenner Creek Rd, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 3.7 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 650 feet TIME 2 hours Crafty mountain bikers have built a playground for themselves in a eucalyptus grove in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains near Cal Poly. It is 1.85 miles from a trailhead on Stenner Creek Road to The Eucs, where bikers can zip down freeride trails with impressive banked turns and jumps. Hikers can enjoy the trail up Stenner Creek Canyon too, taking in views of nearby Bishop Peak and surrounding San Luis Obispo County landscapes.
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SERENITY SWING LOCATION Village Dr and Poly Canyon Rd, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 4 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 900 feet TIME 2 hours This hike is well known for featuring a tree swing with an amazing view of Poly Canyon. The trail begins in Cal Poly’s campus and passes through the “Architecture Graveyard”. The hike is 42 trails
gorgeous in Spring when the hills are green and full of wildflowers and offers great views of the Cuesta Grade and Cerro Romauldo to the north. Make sure to spare some time for swinging and picture taking at the top.
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BISHOP PEAK LOCATION 787 Patricia Dr, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 4.2 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1175 feet TIME 2 hours Bishop Peak is the tallest of the Nine Sisters, the picturesque volcanic Morros stretching across San Luis Obispo. The iconic mountain has a rocky crown shaped like a bishop’s miter, which provides panoramic views over the city and nearby peaks. The single-track trail to the 1,559 foot summit is demanding and rewarding—a truly excellent hike.
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CERRO SAN LUIS (MADONNA MOUNTAIN) LOCATION 1177 Fernandez Rd, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 4 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1100 feet TIME 1 hour 30 minutes Located just west of downtown San Luis Obispo, the 1,292 foot Cerro San Luis (or San Luis Mountain) offers sweeping views over the city and surroundings. Cerro San Luis is a member of the Morros, or Nine Sisters, a chain of prominent volcanic peaks stretching east from Morro Bay. These beautiful peaks set the postcard-like backdrop for San Luis Obispo and are excellent places to hike. Several trails explore Cerro San Luis, and its proximity to downtown makes it quite popular with hikers. The main trail to the summit begins from the end of Marsh Street just before the on ramp to Highway 101, providing a four mile out and back hike with 1,100 feet of elevation change.
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RESERVOIR CANYON LOCATION Reservoir Canyon Road, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 5.35 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1350 feet TIME 3 hours From a less heralded summit in the Santa Lucia Foothills northeast of San Luis Obispo, you will find triumphant views of the peaks and valleys surrounding this gem on the Central Coast. The hike from Reservoir Canyon to this 1,715 foot crown is not for the meek. The 5.35 mile round trip hike ascends 1,350 feet, and over 800 of those feet come in the final grueling mile.
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HIGH SCHOOL HILL LOCATION 1670 Lizzie St, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 4 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1456 feet TIME 2 hours Bowden Ranch, also known as High School Hill, is a 4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near San Luis Obispo, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
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LEMON GROVE LOCATION 1183 Fernandez Road, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 2.2 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 300 feet TIME 1 hour 15 minutes
This 2.2 mile loop explores a 120 acre open space between Cerro San Luis and downtown San Luis Obispo. With just three hundred feet of elevation gain, this is a quick hike on its own, or an easy extension to the steeper trek up Cerro San Luis. The abandoned lemon grove that gives the trail its name is less exciting than it sounds, but the views over this city are rewarding.
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SOUTH HILLS RIDGE LOCATION 385 Woodbridge Street, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 1.5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 450 feet TIME 45 minutes While shorter than the more celebrated peaks around San Luis Obispo (mainly, the "Nine Sisters"), the 580 foot summit of the South Hills provides excellent easy-to-reach views of San Luis Obispo. A perimeter loop trail tours the 133 acre South Hills Open Space, along with a ridge trail that provides a 1.5 mile round trip hike as it ascends 450 feet to the top of the green space just south of downtown San Luis Obispo.
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PREFUMO CANYON VISTA POINT LOCATION 4425 Prefumo Canyon Rd, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 3.5 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 820 feet TIME 2 hours Prefumo Canyon Vista Point Trail is a 3.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located in San Luis Obispo, California. It features beautiful wild flowers, stunning views, and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
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OLD PROSPECTOR LOCATION Irish Hills, 1540 Froom Ranch Way, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 4.4 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 650 feet TIME 2 hours 15 minutes Today the Irish Hills are like a gold mine for hikers, but the small mountain range in San Luis Obispo historically hosted several mines for chromium and mercury. The ruins of one of these mines can be visited on Old Prospector Trail, which opened in 2015 to join the growing group of trails in Irish Hills Natural Reserve. This hikers-only single track starts in Froom Canyon and is 0.9 miles long from end to end. Alongside the ruins of the mining operation at the top of Old Prospector Trail, there is a junction with Wednesday Trail (formerly Pond Trail), which can be used to reach the Johnson Ranch â€“ Irish Hills Connector Trail and form a loop for a hike thatâ€™s 3.4 to 4.4 miles round trip with 650 feet of elevation change. Put the Old Prospector to work on this less-explored loop in the Irish Hills!
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FROOM CREEK LOCATION Irish Hills, Madonna Road & Devaul Ranch Drive, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 3 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 500 feet TIME 1 hour 30 minutes On the east side of the Irish Hills, there is a canyon with a surprisingly southwestern feel. Though surrounded by traditional coastal chaparral, the trail follows an old road up a canyon akin to the old mining roads converted into hiking trails found in the California desert. Above the canyon, there are broad views of San Luis Obispoâ€™s most prominent Morros, Bishop Peak and Cerro San Luis. Thanks to the honeycomb of trails across the Irish Hills, there are several potential hikes exploring Froom Canyon, including this short but varied 3 mile loop with 500 feet of elevation gain. For a little extra hiking, consider adding a 1.1 mile loop around the end of Froom Canyon. For something more, add 2.9 miles with Old Prospector Trail Loop.
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ISLAY HILL LOCATION 1364 Sweet Bay Lane, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 1.8 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 550 feet TIME 30 minutes Islay Hill stands at the eastern end of the chain of volcanic plugs running across San Luis Obispo. If Bishop Peak is the most iconic Morro, than Islay Hill is about the easiest to hike (with the exception of Black Hill). The dome -shaped 776 foot summit is more mound than mountain, but you will find 550 feet of elevation gain on the 1.8 mile round trip hike to the top. Since Islay Hill is farther east than any other Morro, it offers the closest perspective of the Santa Lucia Mountains and a panoramic overview of Edna Valley.
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JOHNSON RANCH OPEN SPACE LOCATION Johnson Ranch Loop, San Luis Obispo DISTANCE 3.7 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 200 feet TIME 1 hour 45 minutes
Johnson Ranch Open Space preserves 242 acres of old ranch land just south of San Luis Obispo. The 3.7-mile Johnson Ranch Loop explores the municipal open space, which is dominated by rolling grassy hills accented by serpentine rocks.
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ONTARIO RIDGE (AVILA RIDGE) LOCATION 1717 Cave Landing Rd, Avila Beach DISTANCE 4 miles ELEVATION CHANGE 1332 feet TIME 2 hours Ontario Ridge Trail via Sycamore Springs is a 4 mile out and back trail located near Avila Beach, California that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and nature trips.
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CAYUCOS STATE BEACH LOCATION Cayucos Dr and Ocean Front Ave, Cayucos
Take the Cayucos Drive exit off Highway 1 and head toward the pier. Parking is available on Ocean Front Avenue and Ocean Avenue.
AMENITIES Fishing Pier, Lifeguard, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Kids Play Area, Tidepools DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash
FISHING “Cass’ Wharf” pier is open for public fishing without a license day or night. The Cayucos Pier is a popular old wooden fishing pier that has excellent views of the town, the beach, the rolling hills, and even Morro Rock in the distance to the south.
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TORO CREEK BEACH (MORRO BAY DOG BEACH) LOCATION Cabrillo Hwy and Toro Creek Rd, Cayucos
There are parking spaces along Highway 1 between Toro Creek Road and the bridge over Toro Creek.
AMENITIES No Facilities DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed off leash
Toro Creek Beach fills the gap between the north and south sections of Morro Strand State Beach. This mile long beach is considered â€œDog Beachâ€? because canines can roam leash-free on this beach. Highway 1 and a bank of dunes are right behind the beach. Morro Rock is visible to the south and the Cayucos Pier is to the north.
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MORRO STRAND STATE BEACH LOCATION Yerba Buena St and Beachcomber Dr, Morro Bay
The beach is two miles south of Cayucos on Highway 1. Take the Yerba Buena exit. 24th Street allows access to the northern part of the beach.
AMENITIES Picnic Areas, Restrooms, Outdoor Showers, Drinking Water Available, Wheelchair Accessible DOG POLICY Dogs are prohibited This beach is a coastal frontage park featuring outstanding picnic sites. A three mile stretch of beach connects the southern and northern entrances to the beach. Fishing, windsurfing, jogging and kite flying are popular.
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MORRO ROCK BEACH LOCATION Coleman Dr, Morro Bay
The parking lot is located where Coleman Drive ends at the base of Morro Rock. Drive toward the Rock and stay left until the road ends.
AMENITIES Fishing Pier, Lifeguard, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Kids Play Area, Tidepools DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash Morro Rock is a beautiful Northern California Beach with a rough ocean environment and sandy dunes. This beach is often used for commercial shoots, weddings and festivals.
Be su e y e o utre t o ke e p a n fo r o t t e rs!
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SANDSPIT BEACH LOCATION Montaña De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos
Drive out Pecho Valley Road and turn right into the Sandspit day-use area and park at the end of the road. It is just a short walk on a wide trail to reach the beach nearest the parking area, but it’s a long walk north on beach if you want to reach the sand spit.
AMENITIES Trails, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Dunes DOG POLICY Dogs are prohibited Sandspit Beach is a long sandy beach backed by dunes on the long spit that protects Morro Bay Harbor. This is the best place for a long beach walk and beachcombing. If you walk far enough to the north you’ll reach the Morro Dunes Natural Preserve with unique views of Morro Rock and the town of Morro Bay.
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HAZARD CANYON REEF LOCATION MontaĂąa De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos
Head south on the Pecho Valley Road from Los Osos. As you are driving through the eucalyptus tree groves, look for a parking lot on the right signed Hazard Canyon Parking. To reach the reef, walk north from the north end of the parking lot and follow the trail as it drops down a gulch to the water. To find the dunes, walk south from the south end of the parking lot then turn right on the first trail toward the ocean.
AMENITIES Tide Pools, Trails, Dunes DOG POLICY Dogs are prohibited Hazard Canyon Reef contains some of the top tide pools in the state. Come here at low tide to see the colorful tide pools. West of the parking lot there is a large sand dunes structure to play around on. Hiking trails meander in all directions in the sandy hills.
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SPOONER'S COVE LOCATION Montaña De Oro State Park, Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos
Leave the town of Los Osos on Pecho Valley Road and look for the entrance to the Spooner’s Cove day-use parking area on the right just before reaching the campground.
AMENITIES Campground, Trails, Restrooms, Tide Pools, Picnic Tables, Caves DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash Spooner’s Cove Beach sits in a cove where Islay Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean. This beautiful cove has a pebbly beach, tide pools, caves, and unique rock formations to climb around on especially at lower tides. Islay Creek Campground, the only campground in Montaña de Oro State Park, is across the street walking distance from the beach. Spooners Cove is the only area of Montaña de Oro State Park where dogs are allowed on the beach, but they must be on a leash. Trails branch out in all directions from this central hub of the park. Some trails are open to mountain bikes and horseback riders.
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OLDE PORT BEACH LOCATION 6520 Avila Beach Dr, San Luis Obispo
Continue through Avila Beach on Avila Beach Drive and look for parking spaces along the shoulder of the road at the first cove after crossing the bridge.
AMENITIES Restrooms, Small Boat Launch, Lifeguard, Fire Pits DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed off leash BONFIRE Seasonally using fire rings
Bonfires are allowed only in District fire rings, which are generally available the second Sunday of March through the first Sunday of November, weather permitting. No outside fire rings may be used. Fire rings are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This beach is a little calmer than Avila Beach and less populated. A graded switchbacking ramp and a separate stairway lead to the beach from the center of the cove. A car ramp leads down to the beach for launching small boats, but requires a four-wheel drive rig to avoid getting stuck in the sand. The second cove, called Fishermanâ€™s Beach, has a smaller sandy shore and RV camping spaces above the beach.
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LOCATION Front St and San Francisco St, Avila Beach
Take the Avila Beach Drive exit off Highway 101 and wind your way down to this charming village. Parking is available along Front St, First St, and the surrounding area.
AMENITIES Fishing Pier, Restrooms, Lifeguard, Picnic Tables, BBQs, Shops, Grass Park, Basketball Court, Aquarium, Kids Play Area, Tide Pools, Volleyball nets DOG POLICY Dogs are prohibited FISHING The Avila Pier is open for public fishing without a license day or night. Avila Beach is the large wide sandy beach that takes up the entire waterfront of the town of Avila Beach, CA. For those who want to see the area on bike, the Bob Jones Trail is a scenic paved bike path that begins at 1st Street and Avila Beach Drive. Near the beach are shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms. For families, there is a small park at the north end of the waterfront that has a pirate-themed playground, grassy areas, and an aquarium.
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SOUTH PALISADES LOCATION 194 Beachcomber Dr, Pismo Beach
Turn off Shell Beach Road onto Silver Shoals Drive, Beachcomber Drive, Searidge Court, or Indio Drive and park at the end near the water. The stairway to the beach is centrally located on the Beachcomber Drive loop, but all these roads lead to the park.
AMENITIES Grass Park, Picnic Tables, Walking Paths, Benches, Tide Pools DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash South Palisades Park is a grassy park along the bluff in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. There are picnic tables and benches here with nice views from the bluff. Near the stairs there are unique rock formations and tide pools to investigate. When the tide is out itâ€™s possible to walk north along the shoreline below stunning blufftop homes. Walking south leads to the beach below Ebb Tide Park where more tide pools can be found.
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SPYGLASS PARK LOCATION 2549 Spyglass Drive, Pismo Beach
Turn onto Spyglass Drive from Shell Beach Road north of downtown Pismo Beach.
AMENITIES Kids Play Area, Picnic Tables, BBQs, Restrooms, Benches, Grass Park, Tide Pools DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash Spyglass Park is a blufftop park in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. This grassy park has a playground, picnic tables and barbecues. A rough eroded trail leads down to a storm drain at the shoreline. From there itâ€™s possible to walk over rocks to a sandy beach below Spyglass Park. At high tide the sandy part of the beach is hard to get to. When the tide is out there are tide pools exposed. Be careful not to get stuck by the rising tide if you venture down the shoreline.
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ELDWAYEN OCEAN PARK LOCATION Ocean Blvd and Morro Ave, Pismo Beach
Street parking spaces for Eldwayen Park are available along Ocean Boulevard.
AMENITIES Tide Pools, Picnic Tables, BBQs, Benches DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash Eldwayen Ocean Park is a long narrow park along the bluff in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, CA. At the center of this stretch of Ocean Boulevard near Morro Avenue is a small grass area on a point with benches and picnic tables with excellent views. Near this grass park is a stairway to the narrow sandy beach. Another stairway can be found farther north at Vista del Mar Avenue. At low tides there are plenty of tide pools to explore. Kayakers put in here to explore this impressive shoreline including the arches and caves below nearby Margo Dodd Park and Dinosaur Caves Park.
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ELMER ROSS BEACH LOCATION 2651 Price St, Pismo Beach
Free parking can be found at Dinosaur Caves Park nearby. From there you can walk along Price Street to the hotel where you can find your way down to Elmer Ross Beach. Signs at the hotel discourage public beach parking there.
AMENITIES Gazebo, Grass Park, Tide Pools, Caves DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash Elmer Ross Beach is below a steep bluff between The Inn at the Cove hotel and Dinosaur Caves Park in the Shell Beach neighborhood of Pismo Beach, CA. This small cove is also known as Shelter Cove probably because it gets some protection by a rocky point to the west so waves donâ€™t crash hard here most of the time. There are stairs and ramps down to the beach that start on the ocean side of the hotel. At low tide there are tide pools and caves to explore on the far side of the beach below Dinosaur Park. Near the stairway to the beach is a gazebo with views of Shelter Cove and the surrounding area.
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PISMO BEACH LOCATION Pomeroy Ave and Cypress St, Pismo Beach
There is a public parking lot next to the pier at the west end of Pomeroy Avenue. Another parking lot at the end of Addie Street gives access to the south part of Pismo City Beach near Pismo Creek.
AMENITIES Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Boardwalk, Trails, Beach Overlook, Dunes, Restaurant, Golf Course, Butterfly Colony, Fishing Pier, Wheelchair-accessible Fishing Overhang, Lifeguard, Volleyball Courts, Kids Play Area, Benches, Rentals, Trolly Service DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash Pismo State Beach offers all kinds of attractions: hiking, swimming, surf fishing, and digging for the famous Pismo clam. There are tree-lined dunes and the beach is popular with bird watchers. Next to the North Beach Campground is a Monarch Butterfly Colony in a eucalyptus grove which can be viewed when they are present in late-October through February. The park has the largest overwintering colony of monarch butterflies in the U.S.
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GROVER BEACH LOCATION 25 W Grand Ave, Grover Beach
Access to Grover Beach is at the west end of Grand Avenue where there is an entrance station and a parking lot. There is a fee for vehicles entering the beach.
AMENITIES Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Boardwalk, Trails, Beach Overlook, Dunes, Restaurant, Golf Course, Accessible Features DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash 98 beaches
Grover Beach is a wide flat sandy beach that is typically packed firm enough for even passenger cars to drive onto. It is recommended to have four-wheel drive to avoid getting stuck in the sand. Near the Grover Beach entrance is a dayuse plaza with a wooden boardwalk that leads to a platform between the dunes that looks out over the beach. Another boardwalk starts from the plaza and leads north through the dunes next to the Pismo Beach Golf Course.
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OCEANO DUNES STATE VEHICULAR RECREATION AREA LOCATION Pier Ave and Strand Way, Oceano
Drive west on Pier Avenue in Oceano to an entrance station and parking lot. There is a fee for vehicles entering the beach.
AMENITIES Dunes, OHV Area, Restrooms, Beach wheelchairs available for loan at the Pier and Grand Avenue entrances to the beach DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash This off road area is among the most popular and unique of California State Parks. The 5.5 miles of beach open for vehicle use and the sand dunes available for off-highway motor vehicle recreation are attractions for visitors from throughout the United States. Oceano Dunes is the only California State Park where vehicles may be driven on the beach. Four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for driving on the beach and to the camping and off-highway vehicle use areas in the park. Surfing, swimming, surf fishing, horseback riding and bird watching are popular activities.
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DOG BEACHES OFF-LEASH Olde Port Beach / 84 Toro Creek Beach (Morro Bay Dog Beach) / 74 ON-LEASH Cayucos State Beach / 70 Eldwayen Ocean Park / 92 Elmer Ross Beach / 94 Estero Bluffs State Park / 16 Grover Beach / 98 Morro Rock Beach / 76 Oceano Dunes / 100 Pismo State Beach / 96 South Palisades / 88 Spoonerâ€™s Cove / 82 Spyglass Park / 90
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BONFIRE SPOTS Grover Beach / 98 Oceano Dunes / 102 Olde Port Beach / 84
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HAMMOCKING Cal Poly Architecture Graveyard Avila Beach Pier / 86 Bishop Peak / 46 Cayucos State Beach Pier / 70 Cerro San Luis (Madonna Mountain) / 44 Coon Creek Trail / 36 MontaĂąa de Oro State Park Eucalyptus Grove Morro Rock Beach / 76 Pismo Beach Pier / 96 Serenity Swing / 42 106 trails
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MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS Black Hill / 22 Cerro Alto / 20 Cerro San Luis (Madonna Mountain) / 44 Cuesta Ridge / 38 Hang Glider Hill / 18 Hazard Peak / 28 Irish Hills Natural Reserve / 60 Islay Hill / 62 Johnson Ranch Open Space / 64 Lemon Grove / 52 Lopez Lake Regional Park MontaĂąa de Oro State Park / 28, 32 Morning Glory Ontario Ridge (Avila Ridge) / 66 Prefumo Canyon Vista Point / 56 Santa Margarita Lake Serenity Swing / 42 Shooters South Hills Ridge / 54 Stenner Creek / 40
108 biking trails
RECREATIONAL BIKING TRAILS Bill Roalman Bike Boulevard Bob Jones City to Sea Trail Madonna Inn Bike Path Railroad Bicycle Trail San Luis Obispo to Ragged Point
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RECOMMENDED SURFING Morro Bay / 76 Pico Creek Hazard Canyon / 80 Pismo Beach / 96 Cayucos / 70 Moonstone Beach Saint Annes Avila Beach / 86 Baywood Beach Cable Landing Shell Beach / 90
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FISHING Avila Beach / 86 Cayucos State Beach / 70 Lake Santa Margarita Lopez Lake Morro Rock Beach / 76 Morro Strand State Beach / 72 Oceano Dunes / 100 Pismo Beach / 96
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Whether you are an RV camper or a rugged individual seeking solitude on the beautiful central coast, San Luis Obispo County offers well-appointed facilities for everyone.
CERRO ALTO CAMPGROUND Cerro Alto Campground is off Highway 41 in a canyon with a seasonal creek. The Cerro Alto Trail starts from here for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. LOCATION CA-41, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 434-1996 CAMPSITES 22 tent and RV campsites, no hook-ups, maximum RV and trailer length 24’ to 35’ AMENITIES Wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms FEES $25 per night RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed
MORRO BAY STATE PARK CAMPGROUND Morro Bay State Park Campground is next to a lagoon and a natural bay. There is surf fishing, beach walking, birdwatching and sailing at the
beach. The park has a marina and an 18 hole golf course. LOCATION 60 State Park Rd, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 772-2560 CAMPSITES 135 tent and RV campsites, maximum RV and trailer length 30’ to 35’ AMENITIES Hook-up sites, wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms, showers FEES $35 per night, electric hook-up $50 per night RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed in the campground, but not on the trails
MORRO STRAND STATE PARK CAMPGROUND Morro Strand State Beach Campground is right by the beach. Some popular things to do are surf fishing, windsurfing, kite flying and beach walking. LOCATION 305 Yerba Buena St, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 772-8812 CAMPSITES 75 tent and RV campsites, maximum RV and trailer length 24’ to 40’ AMENITIES Hook-up sites, wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms, showers, next to beach FEES $35 per night, electric hook-up $50 per night
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RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online. DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed in the campground, but not on the trails or the beach
EL CHORRO REGIONAL PARK CAMPGROUND El Chorro Regional Park campground has various hiking trails, an off-leash dog park, botanical gardens along with barbecue facilities, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and softball fields. LOCATION CA-1, San Luis Obispo, across the street from Cuesta College CONTACT (805) 781-5930 CAMPSITES 61 tent and RV campsites, maximum RV and trailer length 40’ AMENITIES Hook-up sites, wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms, showers, dog park FEES $23 to $38 per night RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed
ISLAY CREEK CAMPGROUND Islay Creek Campground is just a short walk to Spooner’s Cove, a popular beach in Montaña de
Oro. There are trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and backpacking. LOCATION Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos CONTACT (805) 527-0513 CAMPSITES 50 tent and RV campsites, maximum RV and trailer length 35’ AMENITIES Wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms FEES $25 per night plus $10 for additional vehicles for up to 3 vehicles RESERVATIONS Online and phone reservations are taken during the summer months, first come first served in the winter months DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash in the campground, but not on the trails
NORTH BEACH CAMPGROUND North Beach Campground has a variety of things to do, such as hiking the Monarch Butterfly Grove trail or several other trails, swimming, surf fishing, horseback riding and visiting Pismo Beach. LOCATION 399 South Dolliver St, Pismo Beach CONTACT (805) 473-7220 CAMPSITES 103 tent and RV campsites, maximum RV and trailer length 36’
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AMENITIES Hook-up sites, dump station, showers, wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms FEES Non-peak season: $25 per night. Peak season: $35 per night RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed
OCEANO DUNES CAMPGROUND This campground has 5.5 miles of beach and sand dunes on 3,600 acres, open for vehicles and camping. Being the only beach in California that allows vehicles on the sand, it is very popular. Surfing, swimming, surf fishing, horseback riding and birdwatching are common activities. LOCATION End of Pier Ave, Oceano CONTACT (805) 473-7220 CAMPSITES Camping on the beach is allowed South of Post 2 on the beach and in the open dune area, 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended to access the site AMENITIES Restrooms FEES $10 per night RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash 120 camping
LOPEZ LAKE CAMPGROUND Lopez Lake has 22 miles of shoreline with lake temperatures around 70Â°F. There is boating, fishing, hiking, camping, equestrian trails, mountain biking, zip-lining, picnicking, and Mustang Waterpark. LOCATION 6800 Lopez Dr, Arroyo Grande CONTACT (805) 489-1122 CAMPSITES 350 tent and RV campsites AMENITIES Hook-up sites, showers, wheelchair accessible campsites, restrooms FEES $25 per night, electric hook-up $40 per night RESERVATIONS First come first served, some spaces can be reserved online DOG POLICY Dogs are allowed on a leash on the trails for a $2 fee, but not allowed in the water
RV PARKS Camp San Luis Obispo Pismo Coast Village Pacific Dunes Ranch
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RE N TA LS + ADVENTURE TOURS
122 rentals + adventure tours
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WATER RENTALS GOOD CLEAN FUN SURF AND SPORT LOCATION 136 Ocean Front Ave, Cayucos CONTACT (805) 995–1993 / goodcleanfunusa.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Kayaks, paddleboards, wetsuits, bodyboards, surfboards SERVICES Guided kayak tours, surf lessons
ROCK KAYAK CO. LOCATION 845 Embarcadero #11, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 772–2906 / rockkayak.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Kayaks, paddleboards SERVICES Guided kayak tours
SUB SEA TOURS AND KAYAKS LOCATION 699 Embarcadero #9, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 772–9463 / subseatours.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Kayaks, paddleboards, canoes SERVICES Kayak, canoe and paddleboard tours; sub sea adventure tour; whale watching; memorials at sea; private chartered boats; cocktail cruises
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MORRO BAY STANDUP PADDLEBOARDING LOCATION 601 Embarcadero #7, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 225–7967 / supmorrobay.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Paddleboards SERVICES Paddleboard tours and lessons
THE PADDLEBOARD COMPANY LOCATION 575 Embarcadero, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 225–5555 / thepaddleboardcompany.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Paddleboards SERVICES Paddleboard lessons, standup paddleboard yoga 126 rentals + adventure tours
KAYAK HORIZONS LOCATION 551 Embarcadero, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 772–6444 / kayakhorizons.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Kayaks, paddleboards
AVILA BEACH PADDLESPORTS LOCATION 3915 Avila Beach Drive Port, San Luis Harbor Recreation Area, Avila Beach CONTACT (805) 704–6902 / avilabeachpaddlesports.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Kayaks, paddleboards SERVICES Guided kayak and paddleboard tours
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CENTRAL COAST KAYAKS LOCATION 1879 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach CONTACT (805) 773–3500 / centralcoastkayaks.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Kayaks, paddleboards SERVICES Guided kayak tours, kayak lessons, kayak fishing, camps
PISMO BEACH SURF SHOP LOCATION 470 Price Street, Pismo Beach CONTACT (805) 773–2089 / pismobeachsurfshop.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Surfboards, bodyboards, wetsuits, kayaks, paddleboards SERVICES Surf lessons, kayak tours, kayak fishing
THE SURFING GOATS LOCATION 170 Valley View Drive, Pismo Beach CONTACT (805) 440–6925 / surfinggoats.com AVAILABLE TO RENT Paddleboards SERVICES Surf standup paddleboard camp, special needs surf camp, lessons and tours, gilligan goat tour
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BICYCLE RENTALS THE BIKE SHOP LOCATION 842 Main St, Morro Bay CONTACT (805) 772–2697 AVAILABLE TO RENT Mountain bikes, hybrids, cruisers
FOOTHILL CYCLERY LOCATION 767 East Foothill Blvd B, San Luis Obispo CONTACT (805) 541–4101 AVAILABLE TO RENT Mountain bikes, road bikes, electric/pedal-assist bikes,
WALLY'S BICYCLE WORKS LOCATION 209 Bonetti Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 CONTACT (805) 544–4116 AVAILABLE TO RENT Mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids, tandems, recumbents
PEDEGO ELECTRIC BIKES LOCATION 425 1st St, Avila Beach, CA 93424 CONTACT (805) 627–1414 AVAILABLE TO RENT Electric bikes
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130 safety info
S a FE TY INFO slo outdoor guide 131
TICKS Ticks in San Luis Obispo County are a known problem. Bites from ticks can cause several diseases, including lyme disease, an inflammatory condition that can cause a characteristic rash, flu-like symptoms (headache, muscle-and-joint aches, fever and chills) at first, and the later possibility of arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders. Ticks can be found year-round, but extra precaution should be taken between March and July. People can minimize their chances of being bitten by following these steps: • Avoid areas where ticks are known to occur. • Stay in the middle of trails; avoid grassy areas, logs or fallen tree branches. • Thoroughly check yourself for ticks for up to three days after activities in tick-infested areas. • Shower soon after returning from a tick habitat • Before washing, place clothing worn in tick areas in a hot dryer for 10 minutes to kill ticks on clothing. • If a tick has already attached itself to your skin, remove it as soon as possible. Use tweezers to grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out, using a firm, steady motion. If the bite area develops any sort of rash or discoloration, seek medical attention immediately.
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RATTLESNAKES Generally, rattlesnakes are shy creatures and will gladly retreat if given enough room, but their bites can be extremely dangerous and require immediate medical attention. Most snake bites are accidental and occur on hands, ankles, and feet while hiking or climbing. Rattlesnakes can be found year-round in San Luis Obispo, but take extra precaution between April and September when the snakes are not hibernating in their dens. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends following these precautions: • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. • Stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day. • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them. • Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use. • Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency. • Teach children to respect snakes and to leave them alone.
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POISON OAK Poison oak is widely distributed throughout San Luis Obispo County. In sunny, open areas, poison oak forms a dense, leafy shrub that stands 1 to 6 feet tall and in shaded areas, such as creek beds or oak woodlands, it becomes a climbing vine. Leaves normally consist of three leaflets that are each 1 to 4 inches long and smooth with toothed or lobed edges. Poison oak is considered the most hazardous plant in California and the allergic reaction can lead to skin irritation, itching, and blisters. Transmission of the allergen can occur by direct touching the plant or coming into contact with contaminated clothing, tools, or animals. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends following these precautions: • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. • Stick to well-used trails and avoid walking through plants and brush. • Wash everything that may have touched the poison oak leaves. • If you believe you’ve come into contact with poison oak, wash your skin thoroughly with lukewarm water and soap as soon as possible. You can reduce the effects if the oil is washed off before it’s absorbed into the skin. If your reaction is severe, seek medical attention. 134 safety info
SAN LUIS OBISPO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER 895 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo / (805) 781–2777
EMERGENCY SERVICES SLO Police Department (Non-911 line) / (805) 781–7317 SLO Fire Department / (805) 781–7380 Poison Control Center / (800) 222–1222
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NOTES + SKETCHES + MEMOS
This book was compiled and designed by Alex Depue, Audrey Gerughty, and Jackie Nguyen during Spring 2018 at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Special thanks to Nico Armenta and Claire Blachowski. The typefaces used are Leafy, which was brushed by Ieva Mezule and put together by Krisjanis Mezulis; Poppins, which was created by Indian Type Foundry; and Nanum Brush Script, which was designed by Sandoll Communications.
Created by Alex Depue, Audrey Gerughty, and Jackie Nguyen.