The dog-friendly Reservoir Canyon Open Space lies in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. From its heights, hikers enjoy views of Morro Bay and some of the area's 9 jagged volcanic morros as they march toward the Pacific. On clear days, the ocean sparkles in the distance.
Reservoir Canyon hosts 4 trails, the main one being the Reservoir Canyon Summit Loop, which combines the Summit Trail with the Canyon Trail for over 5 miles. The trailhead can be found on Reservoir Canyon Road. Meandering up the canyon beside Reservoir Creek, the trail begins tamely, but soon becomes a strenuous uphill climb to the top of the canyon's ridge with its furtastic views. Its rock and dirt path is narrow in spots, is muddy after a rain, and features 2 creek crossings, so sturdy waterproof hiking boots with a good tread are important here.
You and your furry pal will be treated to Reservoir Creek Falls at the beginning or end of the loop, depending which direction you travel from the trailhead. Its shady, shallow pool is pawrfect for a refreshing splash. The creek above plunges down 30 feet of black rock, and a single track path climbs up the side of the falls to rejoin the main trail.
On the Summit portion of the loop, you'll find an old tower with a bell that can be rung with a stone or pebble tossed at it, and at the highest point of the loop is a u-shaped stone bench where you and Fido can rest and take in the 360-degree views. You'll also find a rope swing hung from a huge, ancient eucalyptus tree. Along the way are some puzzling sculptures made of old scrap metal.
The Creek Bypass Trail, with a climb of only 160 feet, allows you to complete the loop without climbing straight up the side of the canyon. Only 1 mile long, it provides an alternative to the most strenuous part of the hike. The Firefighters Trail arises on Lizzie Street in the valley and provides a connector from the town to the loop trail. This out-and-back is considered difficult, but may appeal to those who don't want to drive to the loop's trailhead further north.
Although none of these trails are for the faint of heart, their diverse landscape and pawesome views are worth the effort!
The area around San Luis Obispo and Reservoir Canyon is home to many mountain lions. Know your predator ettiquette and be watchful.