Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Undercover San Luis Obispo: Reservior Canyon

Over my 5 years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo I went on quite a few outdoor adventures. Keep checking back because I will keep posting more as I have time. If you have questions please feel free to ask. We were never bored living in SLO.

So the first place in this series is called "Reservoir Canyon Water Fall and Tunnel". It is one of the easiest places to get to, probably 5 minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo and less than a 2 minute hike. Here is an abbreviated map from the 101.

You will exit off the 101 before you turn the corner to go up the grade. The road will go about .5 mi till the gate and you cannot go any further. Just before that there is some parking to your left. On the weekends there might be a couple cars.

From where you park your car you should hear the waterfall, just walk about 100 ft to the west.

Depending on the time of year the water will be flowing different amounts. But it is always accessible, just scramble across the front of the falls and you will be treated to the entrance of a long tunnel. This is where you hope you brought a head lamp and a few lanterns. It is a bit wet inside so also have shoes on you don't care about. I have heard a few stories about this tunnel. (A boy scout leader we met there said it used to be over a mile long and used like a bomb shelter during WWII)

Not sure what is true but if you make it to the "end", you can tell that it has been poured with cement to close it off. It is still probably a .25 mi (deep). And it is obviously man-made. If you find the real reason for the tunnel please share.

There is also some great hiking past the waterfall. I will post more about this in the future. It was one of our favorite places to go and hunt for Chanterelle mushrooms.


  1. "It is still probably a .25 mi (deep)"
    Upon discovering this blog, my friend and I checked out this cave. You stated it was probably .25 miles deep. 0.25 miles is 1320 feet. This cave is likely no more than 100 feet deep. Your estimation is more than 10x off. This cave was rather disappointing.

    Since this cave is near a reservoir and under a creek, it is likely a drain for the reservoir to re-route the water so a levy could be constructed in a dry creek bed. I highly doubt it was a bomb shelter.

    1. Maybe my memory wasn't as good as I thought, but I remember it being quite a bit further than a 100 ft though it may have changed. What did the end of the tunnel look like?

      I'm not sure whats dissappointing about a cave under a waterfall that only requires a 1 min hike and is a 5 min drive from the school.

      You may be correct about the drain, but if you re-read the text it does not say it is a bomb shelter, but was "used like one".

      All our friends that went during college, thought it was worth the effort. Do you have any off the beaten places that you found and think are worth the effort?

    2. I love it out there, a new trail is being built as well out there..the cave is more then a 100 feet long..

    3. The tunnel has another access point about a half mile north, it's private property but you can get to it biking down from east Cuesta ridge. I had talked to an order gentlemen who was just a kid here during WWII. It was a munitions storage and the tower on top was a lookout for Japanese aircraft. They were worried about all the oil stored on tank farm road. Upon exploring it I found mostly ammo cans, wooden boxes, pallets, and canned goods. The ammo boxes are rusted out on the bottom, except one which was on a pallet. There is more stuff further in the tunnel but it reeks (bat shit). Bring boots,a face mask, and a couple flashlights!

    4. Thanks so much for this bit of history and detail.


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