Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Undercover San Luis Obispo: Bishop's Peak + Cave

This is honestly one of my favorite trails to hike (and I have done some famous hikes through Zion, the Sierras and Grand Canyon). The trail is well maintained and has several hiking options depending on your mood (It is however a well-used trail, and that is either a plus or minus to you). The view from the top changes so dramatically depending on weather and the season. I won't go into too many specifics about the hike because there are already great resources out there (Sierra Club, City of SLO). What I will do is give some commentary on hiking options and comment on some lesser known points on the trail.

View Bishop Peak Features in a larger map

There are 3 main trail-heads:
Patricia Dr - Easily accessed from the surrounding neighborhood. The initial switchbacks will get you nice and warmed up. This way will add an extra 300 vertical ft and .5 mi each way Vs. the Highland Dr Trail-head.

Top of Highland Dr - I call this the cheater's start, but is probably the best option if your roommate is making you hike with a hangover. You get to still see the nicest areas of the hike, but you cut off some distance and vertical climbing. Parking can be tough on the weekend.

Foothill Blvd - Easily the toughest way to go. You will have no shade and the trail is quite steep. If you are looking for just a good work-out this the way to go.

Bouldering and Climbing - Bishop Peak has quite a few great spots for multiple types of climbing. Everything from Bouldering to Trad to Top Roping. The bouldering area is located in the woods near the Highland Dr trail-head and also out in the meadow by the seasonal lake. See the map above for details. And thanks to generous climbers there is a public Bouldering Guide for Bishop Peak and a Climbing Guide for Bishop Peak.

Bishop Peak Cave / Mine - Hiking from either the Patricia Dr or Highland Dr trail-heads you can access the cave. When you are on the main trail and pass through the cattle gate, the cave is located behind the bushes on your right. View the map above for the precise location. The cave entrance is a bit small, but it opens up to an awkward crouching height. The cave is also polluted with tea candles from years of students having parties in the cave. The cave is several hundred feet long with a few tall areas. Make sure to bring lights and clean-up after yourself.

Bishop Peak Summit Rock Cave - For the lack of a better word there is a rock cave located near the summit. Once you have reached the summit, if you take the trail to your left (West), you will eventually (avoid poison oak and scrambling on some rocks) see a small opening to climb down into the rocks. The "cave" is a great shaded area to rest and enjoy the view of Cerro San Luis Obispo.

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