Bluffs Trail in Montaña de Oro

I was looking for a nice little adventure after spending a night at the Madonna Inn, and I stumbled on the Montaña de Oro State Park, which includes the Bluffs Trail. About 5 miles south of Morro Bay, this stretch of coast is one of the more beautiful and easiest to access hiking areas in the central coast. The highlight of this park is the bluffs trail, which will wind you along staggering cliff edges and tide pools for about 2 miles each way of walking, allowing for ample photo opportunities and a memorable experience. Here is all the information.


  • 4 miles round trip
  • 150 feet of elevation
  • All Trails link to the hike
  • Information from my visit in 2017

The trail begins at a small parking lot, which is also the parking area for a pristine beach and the summit of a nearby peak. During this trip, I opted just for the Bluffs Trail though. The trail starts on a small dirt path that crosses an elevated footbridge before dropping you on the top of the cliffs and sending you walking towards the ocean.

When you reach the end of the cliff you are on, you will be staring straight at the ocean in front of you, Morro Rock to the right, and the rest of the cliffs trail on your left. The trail proceeds to the left from here, and you can go as fast or as slow as you would like. When you see some of the views that are in store for you though, I guarantee you will be moving slowly.

The way the rock faces have created a beautiful juxtaposition between the blue of the ocean is stunning, and I ended up taking more photos then I knew what to do with!

Halfway through the trail, there is a small staircase that will take you down to a beach where a stunning set of tide pools I will write about in another post greet you. We saw everything from starfish to sea slugs in the tide pools.

After checking out the tide pools, you continue along the trail until you reach some unique rock structures that hover above the small private sand beach below. I loved this spot and took a ton of pictures. It is hard to tell, but this small shelf is actually about 20 feet above the beach below.

These images are in my mind now, and when I am sitting at work, I think about how amazing each part of the trail were. I would love to come back and camp here sometime as it is a unique area that I couldn’t believe was so close to San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

If you are heading that way, you should check out this trail, there is no real elevation gain, and you go at your own pace so pretty much everyone should be able to do it. When you reach the picnic area, you know it is time to turn back the way you came. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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