Cerro Cabrillo & Tiki Rock
Photo by Erin Silva: Chuck on Live Oak Trail
Quarry Trail Head
The Quarry Complex
by Chuck Abbe
This month I am going to introduce you to a great area to have outdoor fitness adventures. I'm referring to a complex of trails within the Morro Bay State Park. These trails are open for hiking, running, and mountain biking and offer a nice variety of challenges and some spectacular views of the Morro Bay estuary.
The best place to access these trails is the Cerro Cabrillo Day Use area on South Bay Boulevard, about a half mile south of State Park Road. There is a nice parking lot with room for about 15 to 20 cars. Located in the shadows of Cerro Cabrillo and Black Hill, two of San Luis Obispo county's nine sisters, the area offers a variety of terrain and options to get some heart pumping physical activity.
There are two other unnamed access points. One is about a half mile south of this day use area on South Bay Boulevard, but there is only room for about three to four cars, at best. The other is on Turri Road about two miles east of South Bay Boulevard. This one is just a pullout on the north side of the road with room for about six to eight cars.
From the Cerro Cabrillo Day Use area you have two choices to access the trail network. On the northeast corner of the parking lot is a sign giving the standard warnings about ticks, snakes, poison oak, etc. Just to the left of this sign there is a trail headed east that is signed Quarry Trail. On the southwest corner of the parking lot there is another trail. There is no sign, but it is the Live Oak trail. These two trail heads will give you access to all the trails within the complex, a network which takes you all the way to the eastern boundary fence of the park, south to a grove of oak trees, and eventually to Turri Road.
If you choose the second access point on South Bay, you will see two trails. The first is the Live Oak trail to the left. This portion of the Live Oak trail takes you directly to the Cerro Cabrillo Day Use area and offers a right hand turn about half way that will take you back into the quarry complex. The second trail from this point is actually an old ranch road, known as the Park Ridge trail. It will connect with several other trails and will give you full access to all of the trails in the complex.
The Quarry Trail leaving the day use area is a relatively steep climb which runs along the base of Cerro Cabrillo itself. Along this trail you will pass by the old quarry at the bottom of the pass. This area was quarried in the 1950's for rock to build roads in San Luis Obispo county. It is currently a favorite climbing spot for local rock climbers. Further along the trail is a narrow trail on the left which takes you steeply uphill past Tiki Rock to the summit of Cerro Cabrillo. This is a very steep and rocky trail but the summit offers breathtaking 360-degree views from Los Osos on the west to the mountains on the east.
Be sure to check out the narrow winding trail to the top of Portola Peak as well. This, again, is a great view point over the estuary, the bay and Los Osos.
While much of the Quarry complex of trails are open grassland with little shade, try taking the Crespi Trail to a beautiful shady grove of California live oaks.
The Quarry Trail Complex offers several miles of varied terrain for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, or horseback riding. In future columns I will give some detailed descriptions of actual adventures within the complex that will take you on some of my favorite runs/hikes. In the meantime, here are a couple of links.
Live Oak Trail
At the Peak
Book - Day Hikes in San Luis Obispo County
White Pelican image on banner by Chuck Abbe.