Bishop Peak, San Luis Obispo

November 11, 2011

Bishop Peak, San Luis Obispo

Last Saturday, Patti had a family function up in San Luis Obispo. That’s a 3.5 hour drive from Orange County, so we were going to spend the night there before heading home. I hopped online and started to research hikes in the area for an early Sunday morning hike. Joining Patti and I was her daughter, Christina and Christina's boyfriend Ryan.

I found a hike that was only 4 miles long, and it sounded like a fun hike. It was Bishop Peak which is a 1,546 feet volcanic plug in San Luis Obispo. It is the tallest of the Nine Sisters or the Morros that are a chain of nine volcanic peaks and hills between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, California. Bishop Peak takes its name from its resemblance to a bishop's miter, and is frequently referred to by locals as "Bishop's Peak".

We could see the peak from where we were having dinner on Saturday night. It really looked like something different. Lots of huge rocks towards the top, it does look like a volcano.

Bishop Peak is popular with rock climbers, and you can see their hardware bolted into the side of these massive granite boulders. I’ve read that people have fallen and died while hiking and climbing up there. I’m very careful while hiking and don’t put myself in unsafe conditions in part, due to the fact that I have a handicapped leg and I’m not at a 100%. I thought if I stayed on the trail, I would be fine. I’ve asked Patti and Christina if they wanted to join me on the hike, but after telling them about the people you have fallen, they said no, but I knew that Ryan would take the challenge and want to hike up to the peak. So Ryan and I woke up at 5:45 and headed off for the trailhead. We just punched in the address “1 Highland Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93403” to our GPS and it took us right to the trail. The hike started off by going through an oak grove, and the trail winds around the peak, and then you hit some switchbacks to the top.

The hike is pretty easy. Ryan and I were moving kind of fast so we could make it back to the hotel in time for breakfast. I did stop twice to catch my breath, but we made it to the top in less then an hour. Once we made the saddle, there are two benches for you to sit down and relax, also there are two memorial markers from people that have died, one from climbing and the other from hiking. From the saddle it is a short boulder scramble to the top. I climbed up there first, and once on top of the peak, that I looked at the day before, It felt great, but my legs were a bit shaky because I am not a fan of heights and if you do trip and fall, you will die. I climbed back down and Ryan went up there, he thought the same thing regarding the uneasy feeling on top.

The hike up there and back was really fun, we ran across a few other hikers, most of them had a dog or two with them. Our dog Tiffany did great, she loves hiking and made it all the way up there and most of the way back before fading. I carried her for the last 1/2 mile. It was a 4 mile hike, and it took us 1.4 hours. A great workout. We made it back to the hotel in time for the free breakfast. The girls were planning on working out at the hotels’ gym, but it seems that the gyms equipment was either broken or not what they were looking for. They did manage a 2 mile walk to Starbucks.

On the way home we decided to stop by the seal sanctuary in Carpinteria to see the seals. Last time Patti and I were there, there were seals everywhere, but before we made it to the seal sanctuary, we had to take a detour to downtown Carpinteria to the candy store. I think Patti, Tina and Ryan were in there for 30 minutes, they emerged carrying bags of candy and a few ginger sodas. We hopped back in the car, and we were at the seal sanctuary a few minutes later. This time we only saw about six seals. It was a nice break from driving, so I was happy to get out of the car and walk around a bit.

It turned out to be a real nice weekend. I got to meet more of Patti’s family, the Pearsons, who are very nice. The Pearson's family home is on a peak just south of Bishop Peak. As a kid, Patti hiked up to the top of that peak while staying at the Pearson's home.

If you live near or are driving through San Luis Obispo stop and hike Bishop Peak. It's a short fun hike that will challenge you a bit.

Here is a list of the “Nine Sisters” peaks in order from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo including their height.
1. Morro Rock 576 ft
2. Black Hill 665 ft
3. Cabrillo Peak 911 ft
4. Hollister Peak 1,404 ft
5. Cerro Romauldo 1,306 ft
6. Chumash Peak 1,257 ft
7. Bishop Peak 1,559 ft
8. Cerro San Luis 1,292 ft
9. Islay Hill 775 ft

Reference - Wikipedia

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