Trail: Montana de Oro

Finding a worthy trail across the country can be challenging. When Patrick and I started planning our trip to California, countless hours were spent researching various trail systems. To our advantage, his family lives out there, so a quick call-to-action via Facebook resulted in countless options. Thanks to MTB Project by REI, we were able to take a virtual tour of the trail without ever leaving our couch.

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After shifting through suggested trails, we decided that it was important to keep it a short drive from the city, have enough miles of trails to make it worth the drive, provide camping, and be challenging with a huge payoff. What we landed on was Montana de Oro State Park. The park sits just north of San Luis Obispo and offers 20+ miles of out and back trails, camping, and amazing views of the ocean and mountains. (Seriously, my favorite part about California is being at the beach and in the mountains at the same time!)
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View from the top of Hazard Peak

 

Soon after setting up camp, we set out to Hazard Peak Trail. Rated as an easy/intermediate trail, it had come highly recommended so we were eager to test it out.

The trail starts with an easy climb up the ocean side of the mountain. After the initial climb, we were greeted by a flat, winding trail through the brush. If you’re visiting, make sure to enjoy this part of the trail while you can! From there, the trail gets a bit tougher. The trails quickly changes into a moderately steep climb of loose rocks. Most riders will be able to make it up, just make sure to be drinking tons of water as the whole trail is exposed.
The climb is made all the sweeter by knowing this trail is an out and back. All of the climbing at the start soon becomes a crazy fast and flowy descent.
Confidence is key! With the large amount of loose rock on this trail, there doesn’t leave much room for excessive braking. Once you make it off the steep part of the mountain, you’re back in the grove where there is a ton of room for bike surfing on small berms. For those experienced riders, there’s plenty of opportunity for small jumps, as well.

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Once back at camp, we spent the rest of day 1 drinking beers and soaking in the views. Not all of the trails at Montana de Oro are bike-friendly! It’s worth it to take some time to hike along the bluffs, though.

The next day, we wanted to check out an easier trail that promised just as amazing views. Oats Peak has all the fun that Hazard does, just with an easier climb to the top. It is an out and back, as well, so any efforts put in on the way up will soon be rewarded.
Oaks Peak is switchback city, making the climb all the easier and the descent all the better.
The trail is doable by beginners, but it does feature a ton of exposure which may rattle some nerves.

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All in all, I’m very stoked that we chose to visit Montana de Oro. It was close to civilization while feeling worlds away. The trails introduced me to a whole new kind of riding that I wasn’t sure if I could accomplish. The camping facilities are wonderfully maintained and the views made everything worth it.

Oh! Make sure you grab a bell at the top of biking trails, as this area is popular for hikers!

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