61-Week Hiking Challenge (Week 17) – Sycamore Crest Trail
After being sick for a week, I was ready to “get back on horse” as they say and kick butt hiking. I was on my own this week and didn’t want to hit an all-new spot, so I chose the Sycamore Crest Trail. This trail is the backside trail to one of our first hikes – the Ontario Ridge. The Ontario Ridge trail will forever be one of my favorite hikes with its heart-pounding course and stunning views, and the Sycamore Crest Trail merges with it at the peak.
To get to the trailhead, you must park at the beautiful Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. If you have the time afterward you should reward yourself with a relaxing soak in their amazingly therapeutic mineral water hot tubs. And if you don’t have time, you need to make time to come back and experience either the Hillside Hot Tubs or Oasis Waterfall Lagoon. It was nice to wonder around the grounds and see their gardens. It’s such a beautiful place with so many things to do and see. The Bob Jones Trail is right there as well which I wrote about in week 8.
After you park, look for the signs for the Sycamore Crest Trail. For most of the trail, it’s a wide dirt road mostly shaded by the aging Sycamore trees. With the steady incline I was pretty winded upon reaching the summit where I merged with the Ontario Ridge trail. After soaking in the breathtaking scenery and pleasantly warm sun, it was time to head back down.
If you live on the Central Coast then you’re aware of the dispute over the Ontario Ridge trail and how it was fenced off last year. Back in February, the California Coastal Commission demanded that the fence be removed from the highly popular hiking destination. Yay! If you’re interested in learning about this ongoing dispute, you may read the article from The Tribune here. I’ve been hesitant in returning to the hiking location, but am truly happy to see that the gates are open. Hopefully the barbed wired fence will be removed soon so no one runs into them – seems a bit dramatic.
I truly enjoy hiking and getting out on these adventures, but there’s nothing better then exploring with others. It’s not often when my friends cannot make it and at times it’s difficult to make myself go alone, but there’s a sense of accomplishment when I push myself to “just do it.” It’s definitely rewarding either way.
Difficulty: 7 (out of 10)
Beauty: 9 (out of 10)
Distance: 3.15 Miles
Elevation Gain: 536′
Worth It? YES!
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)
To get to the trailhead: From the 101 Freeway seven miles south of San Luis Obispo, exit on Avila Beach Drive and head west for 0.8 miles to Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. Turn left into the large parking lot, find a space, and walk up the road to the right of Gardens of Avila Restaurant to reach the trail.
Trailhead address: 1215 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405