61-Week Hiking Challenge (Week 20) – Sydney Street Trail to Murray Hill (Unnamed Hill)
Oops! We did it again! It’s only been 7 weeks since Arleena and I last visited Murray Hill (otherwise known as the Unnamed Hill)/ Reservoir Canyon Trail. I cannot believe we chose to do the other side – and on a sweltering 90-degree sunny day no less! The last time we ventured up this mountain we neglected to visit the horseshoe-shaped stone seating area so we vowed to return again…someday…and week 20 was the time to do so.
California has crazy weather. We go from chilly days (to us that’s anything under 70-degrees – I know, don’t hate us) to hot days to foggy and windy days all in the course of one week. That was last week for you here. I had heard that a “hot spell” was coming, but I could not have imagined how hot it was going to be that day! By 9am we were already looking at 80-degrees.
We have found 3 entrances (to date) to reach the 1,715-foot summit of Murray Hill: Reservoir Canyon Trail, Sydney Street, and Lizzie Street (yet another hike to come). As we did not see the sign that HikesPeak.com spoke of saying, “hike at your own risk,” we did quickly see why they said this is a rigorous trek. With an intense 1,181-foot climb over 1.4 miles (one-way) we kept asking ourselves “WHY?”. We were at a loss of words, well I guess it was more that we could not talk and hike at the same time so maybe our pictures will do our talking for us…
Upon reaching the summit, all I could hear inside my head was On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons. It’s become our theme song because we truly fell on top of the world for each mountain we conquer with our 360-degree views of this beautiful county we live in.
As I’ve mentioned in prior weeks, not only do I love exploring this area, but I also love learning new things that I would not have otherwise learned from being a passerby. The horseshoe-shaped thrown was built by an unknown father to honor his outdoor-loving son. I do not know when this was erected, but I read somewhere that the gentleman used only the stones from the mountain. He did a very impressive job, so much so it’s hard for me to believe all those stones where just lying there on the mountain – but one never knows. All I know is that it sure felt good to rest my exhausted feet and grab a drink of water before we ventured back down the steep dirt trail.
Another tidbit of information comes from HikesPeak.com.
While many locals aren’t sure what to call this summit (unlike the other prominences around), it can be called Murray Hill, taking its name from Judge Walter Murray who resided in San Luis Obispo in the 1800s. Murray took part in the California gold rush after fighting in the Mexican-American War and wrote for the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
This mountain will forever be one of my favorite summits, however no matter which way you approach it, you have to work hard, I mean really hard for it! But what a sense of accomplishment you will have and the views will take your breath away – just as much as the inclines do.
Difficulty: 10 (out of 10)
Beauty: 10 (out of 10)
Distance: 5.12 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,181’
Worth It? YES
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)
To get to the trailhead: Take the 101 Freeway to exit 203 in downtown San Luis Obispo. Drive half a mile southeast on California Street and turn right on San Luis Drive. After a third of a mile, continue southeast on Johnson Street. Drive 0.8 miles and turn left on Sydney Street (one block after Bishop). Go a quarter mile up Sydney Street and park along the side of the road at the top of the street.
Trailhead address: 1800 Sydney Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401