These beautiful, remote hikes offer a glimpse into a rugged area of the Central Coast. Tucked behind Port San Luis, the gloriously untouched hikes are in an area that’s not reachable to the public by car. Because the Pecho Coast Trail and the Rattlesnake Trail both occupy coastline owned by PG&E, they can only be reached on a docent-led hike that requires reservations. To take a docent-led hike, make a reservation by phone or online. The hikes begin at 8:45 am from Fisherman’s Memorial at Port San Luis Harbor.
Take the winding Pecho Coast Trail from Port San Luis to the San Luis Lighthouse, a light station that’s been active on the Central Coast since 1889. The hike, open since 1993, allows visitors and locals to learn about the Central Coast’s history and observe local flora and fauna in a scenic location. Start the hike under the guidance of a docent, and enjoy learning about the history of the land and the lighthouse over a 3.75-mile hike. Docent hikes are open on Wednesday and Saturday, and will request a small donation to keep the hikes going.
The Rattlesnake Canyon Trail takes you beyond the Pecho Coast Trail, and covers more ground. An out-and-back 8-mile hike will take you to pristine, untouched coastline, wide and sweeping ocean views, and a multitude of plant species and native wildlife. Witness whales, dolphins, and otters on this scenic trail.
Both trails, due to the remoteness of their location, often have steep cliffs, narrow trails and loose dirt. The varied terrain also covers steep elevation changes that can reach up to 45 percent. Also watch for poison oak, stinging nettles, rattlesnakes, and ticks. In this area, weather changes extremely quickly, with sharp winds and strong heat exposure. All participants must complete a waiver prior to embarking on their guided hike.
Restrooms and water are available at the Port San Luis Lighthouse, and restrooms are also available at mile 3.5 of the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail.
Exit Highway 101 off Avila Beach Drive and drive for 4 miles to get to the parking lot. The lot is adjacent to the Fisherman’s Memorial, a statue of dolphins just opposite Fisherman’s Beach. The group will meet the docent at the statue to start the hike. Your docent and group will meet at the statue to begin the hike. Wear sturdy, closed toe shoes, and bring water, snacks, a hat and layered clothing. Also, bring lunch if you’re doing the Rattlesnake Canyon trail.