61-Week Hiking Challenge (Week 18) – Cerro San Luis

By Shannon Gurnee
In Beauty
April 29, 2014

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

This week Arleena and I revisited Cerro San Luis (or San Luis Mountain). Back in week 12, Arleena and I made a wrong turn on this trail that only got us to the M on this mountain which about ¾ of the way up to the top. Needless to say we were a bit bummed and vowed that we would return to conquer the summit. I am pleased to say that we can check another mountain off of our list!

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

We chose a very warm and busy day to hike, but quickly passed all the slower people. We saw the err in our ways and went left at the fork to continue on up the mountain. The trail is nice and wide, but I wouldn’t say suitable for any strollers. However we did encounter several mountain bikers who dared to travel this trail. They say that this road was bulldozed by an angry Alex Madonna after the city denied his petition to build an alpine-themed convention center at the top of Cerro San Luis. I love learning trivial information like this.

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

The views are spectacular from this mountain, which if you recall is a member of the Morros, or Nine Sisters, a chain of prominent volcanic peaks stretching east from Morro Bay. We had fantastic views of Bishop Peak (which we conquered in week 11), three other Morros, Chumash Peak, Cerro Romualdo, and Hollister Peak. What a sense of accomplishment we had when we could look around and count all the mountain adventures we’ve had thus far.

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

We did it!

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Arleena feeling strong with Laguna Lake behind her.

Gotta have a jumping shot

Gotta have a jumping shot!

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis

Enjoying the view and shade before heading back down.

At the summit we found a random white platform where the website says special church services are held. Beautiful place for such a thing, but scary looking dilapidated platform. Then there was also a weird cage that held what looked like a large oil canister. Things what make you go hmmmmm… 

Week 18 - Cerro San Luis


During our adventures, it is clear to see why people purchase special gear. One of our newest purchases were trail shoes. Our regular running shoes just couldn’t handle these rocky and sometimes-slippery trails and when we run back down the mountains, our shoes didn’t give us much support.   So prior to this hike we went to Running Warehouse up in SLO for some new trail running shoes. After trying on numerous shoes Arleena got the Asics Gel Scout while I chose the Saucony Peregine 3. I plan to write more on this topic in the future, so stay tuned for that. We both love our respected shoes especially trying them out for the first time running down Cerro San Luis.


This is truly a great hiking area and can see myself returning in the future.

The hike to the summit of Cerro San Luis begins in a city owned open space. The Madonna Family owns the mountain itself, but grants public access to hikers and mountain bikers. Dogs are welcome. No fee or permit is required to hike up Cerro San Luis, so get out and enjoy.

My thoughts:

Difficulty: 6(out of 10)

Beauty: 10 (out of 10)

Distance: 4.93 Miles

Time: 1:16

Elevation Gain: 974’

Worth It? YES!

Rating:   5 Stars (out of 5)

To get to the trailhead: From downtown San Luis Obispo, take Higuera Street southeast to Marsh Street and turn right. Pass beneath the 101 Freeway, and turn right on Fernandez Lane (the only road on the right before Marsh Street turns on to the 101 South). Turn right into the dirt parking area. The trail begins at the end of the lot.

Trailhead address: 1183 Fernandez Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

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About Has 2149 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

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