Take your pick from shorter walks to more challenging hikes. You can stroll down the beach or walk through downtown Avila. Head to the hills above Avila for hiking under the canopy of oaks and sycamore trees. No matter your choice, you'll enjoy the coastal breeze and ocean views stretching from Point Sal to Point San Luis.
Are you looking for a casual and peaceful trail that ends at the charming Avila Beach, with oceanfront fun for the whole family? Try a walk down Bob Jones Trail, a five-mile front-and-back trail on a wide paved path that caters to walkers, bikers, and joggers. The path winds by a tidal estuary filled with wildlife and meanders alongside the greenery and rolling hills of the Avila Beach Golf Course. Bob Jones is one section of an in-progress trail that will wind all the way from San Luis Obispo to the Avila Coast, and is one of the most traveled and beloved paths.
The large path is family-friendly and allows for walking, biking, jogging, and even strollers and dogs. It also passes by Woodstone Market, a great place to grab a quick sandwich or stop for a break and pick from their selection of beer and wine. The path usually takes walkers a little bit over two hours. Refreshing oak trees line the path, providing you respite from the sun and ending in a pacifying view of Avila Beach’s shore.
This trail starts at the Ontario Road dirt parking lot between San Luis Bay drive and Avila Beach Road. Park here, and you’ll see the beginning of the trail. Round trip, the trail is five miles and has an elevation change of 50 feet. Its level of difficulty is easy and will take about 2.25 hours to complete by foot.
The area around Mallagh Landing Trail has a scandalous history, including tales of pirates and bootleggers who frequented the area. Now, it’s one of the most beloved and scenic areas on the Central Coast. Keep in mind that the lower levels of the beach are clothing optional and may not be family friendly.
This half-mile round-trip trail begins with a steep downhill on a dirt path surrounded by oak trees and brush. The trail then leads through Pirate’s Cave, a natural tunnel which turns the walker over into a landing with expansive views of the coastline and the ocean. It’s a short walk, but nearby trails offer an opportunity to extend your hike. Try Shell Beach Bluff Trail for a steep, challenging hike that also connects with Ontario Ridge Trail, placing you high above the cove for magnificent views.
Take Highway 101 to the Avila Beach Drive exit. Head west toward Avila Beach and continue two miles. Turn left on Cave Landing road and drive to the end of the road, which opens to a large dirt parking lot where you can park. Begin walking down the trail which overlooks a rocky cliff area. The trail is half a mile long and has a 100-foot total elevation gain, and takes about 20-30 minutes. You’ll need comfortable athletic shoes, sunscreen, a water bottle, and a hat.
Hike this challenging, picturesque trail for spacious ocean views in the relaxing atmosphere of groves of oak and manzanita trees. The trail begins at the Sycamore Hot Springs Resort, but anyone can hike it regardless of whether they are a guest. The trail is short but steep and challenging, and travels a wide dirt road around Ontario Hill. This hill divides Avila Beach and Shell Beach from the east to west in a striking ridge. The hike is about 1.75 miles round trip, with 575 feet of elevation gain, making a strenuous short walk with magnificent views that are worth the challenge. For those seeking even more of a workout, the trail intersects with the Ontario Ridge Trail at the top of the Ontario Hill ridge, making a possible extension of the hike.
Take Highway 101 and exit on Avila Beach Drive, heading west. Continue 0.8 miles until you see Sycamore Hot Springs on your left. Park in the resort parking lot and find the sign labeled “Sycamore Trail” next to the Gardens of Avila Restaurant. Steep switchbacks head up to the trailhead. When the pavement ends, follow the service road which climbs up the ridge surrounded by forest and ferns. This trail meets the Ontario Ridge Trail, a steep trail which continues for another 0.15 miles. If you want to loop onto the Shell Beach Bluff Trail and onto the Pirate’s Cove trail, descend the summit on the other side of the mountain. The loop total is 4.5 miles. The shorter Sycamore Crest Trail is 1.76 miles. If you’re going to Pirate’s Cove, remember that the beach is clothing optional, so plan accordingly.
Shell Beach Bluff and Ontario Ridge Trail are parallel trails, but very different in terms of difficulty and nature. Together, they make a popular loop for hikers to enjoy. The Bluff Trail is a paved, flat, wheelchair-accesible path with beautiful ocean views. On the other hand, the Ontario Ridge Trail is steep, rugged, and challenging. Together, the two trails create a loop of about 2.8 miles with 675 feet of elevation gain.
This hike can be started in multiple places. For hikers seeking a short and easy path, start at the Shell Beach Bluff Trail in Shell Beach. For the whole, more challenging loop, park back at Cave Landing near Avila Beach. The loop heads east along the Bluff Trail and merges with the base of the Ontario Ridge Trail and climbs 735 feet to the top of Ontario Ridge. Then it descends on the other side to Cave Landing. You can also turn onto the Sycamore Crest Trail by finding the junction of the two paths a quarter of a mile past Ontario Ridge’s Summit. Then head north on the unmarked Sycamore Crest Trail to Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Valley.
Take Highway 101 to the Avila Beach exit. Drive seven miles west to reach the Cave Landing Trailhead after this exit. Then, drive west for two miles and turn left up the steep Cave Landing Road. Take this road for another half mile and park in the dirt lot on the left. The two trails combined is about 2.8 miles with 675 feet of elevation gain. Some sections of the hike are paved and easy to walk, but the steeper sections are very rugged and require good walking shoes.
To hike the Shell Beach Bluff Trailhead, exit Highway 101 at the Avila Beach Drive exit and head south on Shell Beach Road. Drive a third of a mile and take a right on El Porto Drive. Continue toward the ocean to the end of the road and make a slight right onto Indio Drive. At the cul-de-sac at the beginning of Bluff Drive, drive left down to the parking lot where the trail begins.
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