San Luis Obispo County’s North Coast is a tail-wagging, 31-mile stretch of California shoreline on Highway 1. The route begins with a quick jaunt from San Luis Obispo west on Los Osos Valley Road to the coastal hamlet of Los Osos. Here, nature-loving dogs and their humans can roam the 90-acre El Moro Elfin Forest adjacent to the Morro Bay estuary. With an .8-mile boardwalk loop and numerous marked sand trails, visitors can choose between a short stroll or a long hike through the oaks, wildflowers and brush.
If a rugged climb is more appealing, head up South Bay Boulevard to Morro Bay’s Black Hill, where stunning vistas emerge as the trail ascends. Black Hill is the second of the Nine Sisters, a string of ancient volcanic peaks that span the 12 miles between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. On clear days, hikers at the peak are rewarded with views of the coastline and inland rolling hills. Springtime finds Black Hill, and her sisters, awash with native wildflowers including poppies, lupine, sticky monkey flower and the fuchsia flowering gooseberry. Poison oak abounds off trail, so keep your pup leashed and on the trail to avoid this pesky bandit whose oils will adhere to dog hair and easily spread to affectionate owners.
Traveling up Highway 1, DogTrekkers will find miles of welcoming shoreline. Sunny, south-facing Cayucos Beach is popular with local pups. Numerous beach-access points offer free Mutt Mitts in order to ensure this pristine coastline stays clean for all visitors. Springtime brings a variety of shorebirds to this beach, and lucky beachgoers are occasionally treated to views of spouting gray whales as they migrate north from Baja California, Mexico, to Alaska.
When all this exercise finds you needing a place to rest your paws, look no further than the village of Cambria where dog-friendly restaurants offer al fresco dining on their peaceful patios. At Robin’s, your server will be happy to recommend a wine pairing with your local-sourced meal. Cambria is home to the charming Cambria Shores Inn, just steps away from Moonstone Beach. Here, four-footed travelers are greeted with a welcome basket that includes treats, towels and information about dog-friendly places to go and things to do in the area.