San Luis Obispo, the Central Coast college town about 12 miles inland from the Pacific shore, is a great jumping-off place for DogTrekkers who’d like to visit Paso Robles wine country or romp on a beach. But you don’t have to leave town to enjoy one of the region’s top dog-friendly assets, Laguna Lake Open Space, a 375-acre preserve with an off-leash (but not fenced) dog play area and miles of trails leading into the scenic hills.
The trek from Laguna Lake Park up Cerro San Luis (San Luis Mountain), one of region’s “Nine Sisters” peaks, is 5.7 miles round trip with 1,150 feet of elevation gain and views that get better with every step. (There’s also an easy loop trail around the base of the hill.)
There’s no sign formally marking the start of the trail, but an obvious path leads northwest away from the parking lot. A sign and a wooden gate a few hundred yards down mark the boundary of the open space. Just past the gate to the right, the Laguna Lake Upper Loop Trail rises gradually along the south slope of the hill, aiming generally north. After about half a mile it reaches a T-junction near a fence line. Follow the path to the right to summit the hill or turn left, passing a junction with the unsigned Meadow Trail, to get back to the parking lot.