61-Week Hiking Challenge (Week 9) – Oso Flaco/ Oceano Dunes
Objective: Hike at least once a week. Whether the hikes are big or small, long or short, with or without kids, I want to actively engage my body and enjoy this beautiful world we live in. There are so many places to go (free places to boot) that I want to explore them all.
The Central Coast has so much to experience. And I just love it when we don’t have to travel too far to explore them. Over the President’s Day holiday the kids and I took Russel on a small, but beautiful hike to visit Oso Flaco Lake & the Oceano Dunes.
Oso Flaco, meaning “skinny bear,” is a peaceful trail lined with Arroyo Willows and Wax Myrtle trees. With a short walk under the canopy of trees, you’ll come to a long bridge taking you across the lake and over to the dunes.
Across the lake you will enter the stabilized dunes where silver dune lupine, coyote bush, deer weed and dunes paintbrush and a wide variety of birds, reptiles, mammals and many other plants live.
At the end of the boardwalk you will find a viewing platform that affords scenic views of the entire San Luis Bay from Point San Luis in the north, to Point Sal in the south. From there you just have the sand under your feet and the cold ocean water in front of you.
This is a great trail for kids and/or the elderly; however, there are no pets allowed. Strollers and wheelchairs can easily access the trail all the way up to the sandy dunes. Plus there are several benches and a few picnic tables scattered around as well as a restroom along the way.
I love bringing kids on this adventure since there are so many landscapes to experience. Plus anytime you mention beach at least to my kids, they are out the door before I can say “hike.”
The perfect time to visit this location is in the middle of the day. If you go too early or after 3 there is a good chance you’ll be heading into the fog bank. Lunchtime is the perfect time (winter or summer – the weather is always perfect out here) and bring along some beach towels to picnic on while the kids play in the surf.
Difficulty: 1 (out of 10)
Beauty: 8 (out of 10)
Distance: 3.02 Miles
Pace: 21:05 min/mi
Worth It? Yes
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
Directions to the Trailhead: Oso Flaco is just North of Guadalupe off of Highway 1. Go West on Oso Flaco Road, and travel 3 miles until you come to a gravel parking lot. Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area is a part of Oceano Dunes SVRA, a California State Park. Access is permitted sunrise to sunset throughout the year. Parking is $5 per vehicle. Trailhead begins through the white gate.