While in San Luis Obispo, I was excited to climb the Bishop Peak Trail. Bishop Peak is actually the tallest of the “Nine Sisters,” which are picturesque volcanic Morros located around San Luis Obispo. The Nine Sisters (also called Morros) are a chain of nine volcanic mountains and hills in San Luis Obispo County located between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. They nearly form a straight line!
Bishop Peak has a rocky crown shaped like a bishop’s miter, which provides a view of the entire San Luis Obispo. Sadly the day we went, it was foggy, which is not abnormal for California weather.
About the Bishop Peak Trail:
Bishop Peak Trailhead Address:
1 Highland Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Coordinates: 35.30115, -120.68916 (35° 18′ 04.1″N 120° 41′ 20.97″W)
Miles: 3.4 (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 1000
Bishop Peak Summit Elevation: 1559 feet
You can find my Strava here.
From the Bishop Peak Trailhead to the Bishop Peak Trail Summit, it’s 3.4 miles and just under 1000 feet of elevation gain. I went with friends, and it took us about 2.5 hours to hike. We also spent quite a bit of time at the top.
There is paralleled parking on Hyland Drive before the Bishop Peak Trail, but it does get crowded. I would get there early. We got the remaining few spots when we arrived at the Bishop Peak Trail around 9:30 am.
The trail is good for any age, although younger children might struggle on the uphill portion. We also saw plenty of leashed dogs on the trail as well.
There is plenty of wildlife, including: Oak woodland, sage scrub, and chaparral. Plus California Bay Trees and even poison oak. We saw plenty of birds, including eagles and vultures. We didn’t see any mammals, but deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions are said to frequent the area.
My Experience on the Bishop Peak Trail:
The Bishop Peak Trailhead is easy to find. You start on a small paved section and begin hiking to the left of a wooden fence. It quickly becomes a dirt trail and passes through a short forest. You’ll come to the junction of the Bishop Peak Trail and another trail on Patricia Drive.
The Bishop Peak Trail turns left and heads up a grassy slope. Then you’ll go back under trees. We also saw a ton of rock climbers! There isn’t a lot of shade on the Bishop Peak Trail, so take advantage of it. This is also the easiest part of the hike, and it does get much steeper after about half a mile.
Around half a mile, you’ll go downhill and wonder: Aren’t I supposed to be going up? The next section of the Bishop Peak Trail does get rough. You’re exposed to the sun and climb over 600 feet in one mile. It is mostly switchbacks to the top. There are a lot of rocks, and although you won’t scramble anything, it does get fairly steep.
Finally, you reach the Bishop Peak Trail. There are a few spots you can climb up higher than the two benches and sit on nearby rocks. That was really the only scrambling we did. The rest of the Bishop Peak Trail is steep, but there wasn’t any scrambling. But do keep in mind, you will probably struggle on the jagged rocks without good shoes.
Despite it being extremely foggy, it was beautiful. It reminded me of getting to the top of St. Helena and knowing how high you were but not being able to tell. The clouds were starting to burn off as we came back down. I would love to come back on a day it wasn’t too cloudy.
After you are done, you can head back the way you came. I really enjoyed the Bishop Peak Trail in San Luis Obispo, and I can’t wait to hike more in the area.
You can see more hikes here.
Questions for you:
Have you hiked the Bishop Peak Trail?
What is your favorite hike?