61-Week Hiking Challenge (Week 11) – Bishop’s Peak
Last week, Arleena and I climbed a mountain – literally – we climb a freaking mountain!!! In all my years since I’ve lived here on the Central Coast, I’ve always looked at Bishop’s Peak saying, “one day, I’ll hike up that mountain.” And I cannot even tell you how accomplished I feel for completing that trek. It is quite daunting to stand at the base and look up at these tiny little moving figures and realizing that those are people climbing up the trails.
Bishop’s Peak is the most sought after summit in San Luis Obispo. It is the tallest of the Nine Sisters, the picturesque volcanic The Morros stretching across San Luis Obispo. The rocky three-pointed summit, which the padres at the San Luis Obispo Mission imagined resembled a bishop’s miter, stands 1,559-feet tall. Where we started, we were already at 316-feet. That means we still had to climb an additional 1,243 feet!
Starting at the trailhead off of Foothill Blvd., we headed through a horse pasture up what seemed like nothing less then a 45-degree dirt hill. After we stopped panting, the trail got a litter easier but trickier when we had to maneuver up boulders and somewhat hidden trails. With a slight climb, we came to the rest of the trail, which consisted of several switchbacks.
Once we reached the peak, we saw two benches both dedicated to hikers who “chose to climb,” but lost their lives too early on the mountain. This made us wonder – “who climbed this mountain with a freaking bench on their back”?!? Now that’s dedication.
If you choose to get higher and climb the top boulders, the grand rock offers a sweeping vista overlooking Cal Poly, downtown San Luis Obispo, Cerro San Luis, Laguna Lake, the Santa Lucia Mountains, and everything in between. However, exploring the west end of the peak is a bit trickier, but also quite fun. Massive boulders piled at the summit create windows and grottoes that are interesting to traverse. Getting to the top of these rocks requires technical climbing, but partial views are rewarded to bouldering hikers.
After exploring the boulders and taking in the picturesque views, it was time to head on down. We chose to jog down. You have to be careful with the uneven rocks and go slowly though the boulders halfway down. We were laughing the entire way down trying not to slip and fall.
Now that we’ve explored one of the Nine Sisters, I want to climb them all! I’m looking forward to sharing those hikes in the near future.
Difficulty: 9 (out of 10)
Beauty: 10 (out of 10)
Distance: 5.48 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,243 feet
Worth It? Absolutely! Especially on a clear day.
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)
To get to the trailhead: ** From the 101 Freeway in San Luis Obispo, take exit 203 B to Highway 1 North. Drive north for one mile toward Morro Bay and turn left onto Highland Drive. Continue another mile to the cul-de-sac at road’s end. Roadside parking is available. Alternatively, you can start from the lower trailhead on Patricia Drive, which is also used for Felsman Loop Trail.
****Note: We did not start at this location. Instead, we exited Los Osos Valley Rd. from the 101 FWY and headed West for about 3 miles to Foothill Blvd. After about a mile there is a turn out on the left hand side where cars park. You have to slip through the fence but there are distinct trails headed up through the horse pasture.