Laguna Ridge
Peak 1,185ft

Tue, Jul 16, 2019
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My wife and I headed to Pismo Beach for a few nights, our favorite local place to get away and relax. I struggle with the "relax" part of vacationing, so I brought my bike to do a bit of Hike & Bike™ while we were there. I had picked out a place near Arroyo Grande to hike, thinking my wife would want to go shopping in that area and I could get dropped off with the bike. Instead, she picked the San Luis Obispo area, so with some last minute scrambling, I found a few summits in that area I could manage with the bike. The first is located near the Madonna Inn, dubbed "Little Madonna Peak" on PB (not found on LoJ). The second was near the Cal Poly campus above an interesting area called Poly Canyon.

Laguna Ridge

Located southeast of town, the Laguna Lake Open Space features a lake (no surprise there) for picnicking and a rather large, unfenced dog park that appears to be quite popular. Parking is found at the end of Dalidio Ave where the dog park is located. I locked the bike to a fence nearby and headed off in search of a trail to the summit. I had a GPS track from Mike Martin off PB, so I had a pretty good idea where to look. The main trails stay low in the flatlands between Laguna Ridge (Little Madonna Peak) and the lake, with connecting trails to nearby Cerro San Luis Obispo to the north. The unsigned Laguna Ridge trail forks off near the dog park, passing through a cattle fence before winding its way over the summit, or near it, anyway. There's a short stint of easy cross-country on the grassy hill to get to the highpoint among some squat summit rocks. Open views in all directions with nary a tree and almost no brush in sight. There is a sign for the trail at the park boundary near the summit, the only one I saw on the route. The roundtrip was just shy of 30 minutes.

Peak 1,185ft

This minor summit lies north of the Cal Poly campus. I rode my bike through town and through the campus northwest of town, initially trying to approach from the southwest via the campus agriculture center, but that was signed for No Trepassing and I gave it up somewhat quickly. I think there might be ways to do it from that side without upsetting the ag folks, but I'll leave that as an exercise for someone else. I then turned my attention to the Poly Canyon approach, parking my bike at one of the housing units where I saw a use trail heading into the canyon. This turned out to work nicely. Had I used Poly Canyon Rd, I could have ridden the bike up the canyon another half mile, and that seems to be the route most folks use. The use trail follows above the creek on the west side, through shaded oaks, and in decent shape. There is amply poison oak to watch out for, but even in shorts I was able to step around the stuff. If you aren't looking for it, you'll contact the stuff, for sure, however. At the end of the road there is a gated ranch with horses (also part of the campus property) but publicly-accessible lands continue to the left. This is the interesting part of Poly Canyon where the college architecture students have built various senior projects over the past 50 years. Most of them are old (more than a decade) and many look like something a hippy architecture student would dream up. Some are fanciful art pieces, others attempts at low-cost housing projects, and for still others their intent isn't clear. The place isn't maintained very well, there is some graffiti and deteriorating structures, but despite this, it makes for an interesting visit. If one follows the main path uphill to the northwest past some water towers (themselves one of the student projects), a use trail continues upwards toward Peak 1,185ft. The use trail crosses a ranch road, then peters out in the grassy slopes above, but there are no fences and no No Trespassing signs encountered enroute to the summit. The SE Ridge is rocky and nearly approaches class 3 scrambling. The most difficult part is dodging the many yucca plants that dot the ridgeline. The summit is open to views overlooking the campus as well as the higher Santa Lucia Range to the north and east. I returned basically via the same route, checking out yet more of the projects in Poly Canyon before returning to the bike. From there, I had a 12mi+ ride back to Pismo Beach where we were staying. It made for a nice ride with the wind mostly at my back, the whole outing taking less than five hours.

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This page last updated: Thu Jul 18 18:29:02 2019
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