By Maylia Baird

Now that May has arrived, the weather is becoming warmer, which makes leaving the house sound more appealing, and makes outdoor activities even more enjoyable. Regardless of whether you prefer long hikes, short ones, simple walks, or specifically good bike trails, there are lots of options here in North County! Whether you are looking for some local hikes to try or just want to get outside more this spring, here are some suggestions. 

Be sure to check weather before heading to any of these hikes and note that some may have damage due to previous winter storms or by other natural causes.


Santa Margarita 

Gray Pine Trail 

 This is a “there and back” 6.8-mile hike in Santa Margarita. It’s a considerably challenging route and takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes to complete. So if you’re looking for an extensive trail, this would be a fun way to get a good workout in and cover some beautiful landscape! In addition to simply walking the trail, people also mountain bike, and dogs are welcome but owners are asked to have them on a leash. On this trail, you will overlook the Santa Margarita Lake, and in April, there are said to be lots of wildflowers. 

From US 101 South, use the right lane to take the ramp to CA-58, merge onto El Camino Real and then take a right onto CA-58 E. Continue on West Pozo Road until you take a slight left onto Santa Margarita Lake Road. Turn right onto Rocky Trail and continue straight for less than a mile until you fund Grey Pine Loop on your right.

The Rinconada Trail 

This is a 4.7-mile loop trail located in Santa Margarita and is considered a fairly challenging hike. It typically takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete. Although most visitors hike this trail, it is also common to see people horseback riding. You can bring your dogs but they need to be on a leash. This trail has wonderful views of mountains and you’ll certainly be surrounded by oak trees, shrubs, and wildlife. 

From US 101 South, use the right lane to take the ramp to CA-58, merge onto El Camino Real and then take a right onto CA-58 E. Continue on West Pozo Road for about 9 miles and then turn right onto Rinconada Road and you will be at your destination.


Atascadero Lake Park Walk

This is an easy and fun walk if you want to get outside and get a quick walk in. The Atascadero Lake Park Walk is 1.3-miles long and circles the Atascadero Lake. Lots of locals walk this trail weekly and even daily because it is so close to downtown and so approachable. It takes an average of 25 minutes to complete and you will likely see people walking the trail on the gravel but you can also bike along the trail on the road since it is paved.

Head West onto Morro Road (Highway 41) for about 1.2 miles and then turn left on Portola Road and your destination will be on your right.

Stadium Park 

There are a few routes you can go once you get to Stadium Park in Atascadero. You can either take the Pine Mountain Loop, Blue Oak, Alps, or Marj Mackey trail. They are all 2-mile loops and are in close radius of each other. Each is estimated to take about an hour to complete. These trails are thought to be moderately difficult and are considered by many hikers to be well-maintained. A main highlight of this trail is that at the top you have a panoramic view of the city of Atascadero, the Colony Park, and Colony Cinema Theater. You will likely be surrounded by many oak trees during this hike as well. 

Head southeast on El Camino Real toward Traffic Way. Turn left onto Traffic Way and then right onto Lewis Avenue and then left onto Capistrano Avenue. Turn right onto Hospital Avenue and both trail entrances will be found on your right.

Jim Green Trail

This is a 1.6-mile loop trail located in Atascadero and is considered an easy route. It takes about 40 minutes to complete and, aside from walking, is popular for horseback riding and mountain biking. You are also welcome to walk your dogs on a leash. On this hike, you will have a view of the Chalk Mountain Golf Course and see lots of oak trees and wildlife — especially deer!

If you are heading south on Highway 101, take exit 218B for Curbaril Avenue and turn left. Then turn right onto Cortez Avenue. Your destination will be on the left.

Cerro Alto 

This is a 4.7-mile loop trail in Atascadero on the road to Morro Bay. It is considered a challenging hike and is estimated to take 3 hours to complete. Many also horseback ride, mountain bike, as well as camp here. Bring your dogs but they are asked to be leashed. You will likely encounter streams of water and many types of plants along the trail. Once you reach the top, there will be a stunning 360 view of 7 Sisters Mountain Range and the Morro Bay rock and stacks in the distance.

Head onto CA 41 S (Morro Road) for about 8.7 miles. Turn left onto Cerro Alto Road and your destination will be on your right. 

To find more information on these trails, directions, and more, visit


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