Terrace Hill

Tue, Feb 22, 2011

With: Cheryl Macaraeg
Ryan Burd
Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2

Terrace Hill is located in the city of San Luis Obispo, one of the remnants in a string of volcanic plugs referred to as the Seven Morros or the Nine Sisters. In fact there are more than 20 rocky formations in a rough line starting from Morro Rock on the coast, stretching inland along Hwy 1, ending east of San Luis Obispo. Most of these are unnamed. Terrace Hill is one of the minor formations, barely exceeding 500ft in elevation with just over 100ft of prominence. The effort to reach its summit is minimal. The family was on its way to Pismo Beach and I asked if anyone wanted to go on a hike along the way. Mom suggested she'd be willing to go if "it wasn't too hard." I told her Terrace Hill would be so easy that she would be embarrassed if she didn't do the hike. I delivered.

We found the TH easily enough on the east side of the hill off Bishop Street. Like most of the surrounding countryside, the slopes are a lush green with the winter rains. Poppies are starting to bloom all across the Coast ranges, though not yet in abundance. Other flowers are starting to bloom as well. An old road leads the 1/7 mile from the trailhead to the flat-topped summit. Roughly the size of a football field, it appears the top was bulldozed back in the day, probably in preparation for development which thankfully didn't happen. Terrace Hill is now Open Space and a popular hike with the neighbors in the area. There are 3-4 benches located around the perimeter where one can sit and take in the scenic views on all sides. The rounded summit of Islay Hill lies to the east, with Cerro San Luis and Bishop Peak to the west. To the north rises the unnamed Peak 1,715ft, a long ridgeline that dominates the city's eastern skyline, but lower than the Santa Lucia Wilderness that lies just behind it. To the south lie the eastern end of the Irish Hills, through which US101 makes its way before emerging at the coast near Pismo Beach.

A modest boulder on the north side of Terrace Hill serves as the summit rock and it was to this that Jackie and Ryan were first drawn. We walked around the perimeter of the summit while waiting for Mom to catch up to us. After surveying the views, we took an alternate route down a use trail on the east side, intersecting the old road about halfway down. The whole outing was less than half an hour.

While Mom and Jackie drove on to Pismo Beach, Ryan and I did a 20 mile bike ride from San Luis Obispo to Arroyo Grande and then to Pismo Beach. Southeast of San Luis Obispo, the land is primarily farming and ranching, and quite scenic. The roads we traveled went through broad valleys and over rolling hills without any significant climbs on the entire route. The weather was mostly sunny and cool, but perfect riding conditions. Only when we got close to the Pacific, west of Arroyo Grande, did it grow colder and windier than we might have liked. A very fine day indeed, considering it was mid-winter.


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