We went on an interesting hike the other day through the Los Osos Oaks State Reserve. This place was pretty incredible with the 800 year old oaks on ancient Chumash and Salinans land. The trees tower you at 30 feet and there are also dwarfed oaks, size varies on the nutrients in the ground. I’m not going to lie, I was paranoid for the past few days because I thought, for sure, I would end up with a bad reaction to all of the poison oak in the park. It is EVERYWHERE! Everything I read about the trails said that it was a prevalent undergrowth but if you stayed on the path you were fine. Well, the path gets pretty narrow and the poison ivy/oak/sumac grows right on the edge. Coming from LA, poison oak isn’t really something we ever had to worry about, even when hiking in the wooded areas. I guess enough people walked the paths to trample any down. Before we went on our hike I studied up on it and I’m happy to report that I could spot it along our path. When we got home, I looked up how to wash it off of things and I was shocked to learn that the oil (the actual “poison” part) stays active for a year + on anything it touches and that it is difficult to get rid of. Yay. We left our shoes outside and I gave them a good rub down and our clothes got a double washing. Also, we took showers as soon as we walked in the door, being careful not to touch anything, including the dog.
I would recommend that you do this trail at least once. Trails aren’t well marked once you’re on them and we got lost. We tried to follow this map from the State Parks Department but I think we got turned around when a swarm of bees covered the path we were on and went on a trail heading the opposite direction. My paranoia about the poison oak got the best of me and I just waited for a couple days to blister up all over and I think that is enough to keep me from this trail for a while. The oaks are stunning and it really is cool to think that nothing has changed in 800 years.
How to get there: Head West on Los Osos Valley Drive from Highway 101 for about 9 miles. You will pass the Los Osos city sign with a bear and it will be on your left hand side with a sign. Park in the lot and head on in! There is a trailhead and a bridge that leads you into the reserve and you can choose to start your hike on 1 of 3 trails.
This trail is incredible; views, paths, and tide pools. Bluff Trail is quite accessible and a hiking novice would be able to do half of the path. It is a bit over 2 miles and it’s easy to get sucked in by the beauty, so if you’re just beginning you’ll want to take it slow. Just know your limits and you’ll be fine.
How to get there: Take Los Osos Valley Road WEST until it ends up at Montaña de Oro. Follow the road up the mountain and it’ll be a slight left after a larger building on the left. Parking is off the cement on the left hand side, large enough for about 8-10 cars. Enjoy!