Avila Beach: Prefumo Canyon-See Canyon Loop

Sunday, January 19, 2014

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Click here to watch a short video of today’s ride

Michael and I head south in our RV for a short self-organized fixed base cycling tour in Avila Beach; a small beach town in San Luis Obispo County along the Central Coast of California. Upon our early afternoon arrival and setup at the Avila/Pismo Beach KOA Campground, we decide that there’s still enough time for us to get a short ride in-great!

We suit up and hop on our bikes for counter clockwise loop that includes a climb up Prefumo Canyon Rd followed by a descent on See Canyon Rd. We exit the KOA and head north on Ontario Rd; the gentle rolling terrain on this quiet frontage parallels US 101 for about 2.9 miles out to the staging area at the Johnson Ranch Loop trailhead.

S Higuera Rd picks up where Ontario Rd ends; it continues north alongside US 101 with views of the open meadows surrounding Indian Knob and SLO’s historical Octagon Barn.

The turn on Los Osos Valley Rd leads us through the residential subdivisions and commercial business district of San Luis Obispo with its many shopping centers and big box stores.

Prefumo Canyon Rd is very easy to miss, the street sign is partially blocked by overgrown tree branches and leaves. Watch for the tennis courts at Laguna Middle School, that’s the visual marker for the turn onto Prefumo Canyon.

The climb up Prefumo Canyon Rd begins through the residential neighborhoods around Laguna Lakes. At Isabella Way, the road winds its way along Prefumo Creek and up around the Irish Hills with gentle 2-4% grades.

After the creek crossing, the single lane road continues up through the canyon with steeper grades of 5-7% grades.

The winding road leads us out of the canyon with 11-12% grades to the open ridge line with gorgeous views of the surrounding chaparral covered hills.

The road continues on much steeper sections of 14-16% grades and winds around the ridge to a wide open vista area with phenomenal views of Los Osos valley, Morro Bay and Morro Rock!



But wait, there’s still more climbing! Prefumo Canyon Rd continues westward through a scattering of newer residential homes and older cattle ranches with barns and farm houses. The views from the top of the ridge are magnificent-take the time to enjoy it!

The road quickly drops down the other side of the canyon towards a cattle guard crossing; this is where the pavement ends and the gravel/dirt road begins. I hate riding through gravel and dirt but I can’t complain because I mapped out this route knowing about it-good thing I’m riding on wider 28’s with tread!

The unpaved road continues up See Canyon Rd to the cattle guard crossing where the pavement begins on the other side. The short steep climb up See Canyon is followed by a fun descent through the canyon along the apple orchards to the other end at San Luis Bay Rd.

From San Luis Bay Rd, we take the Bob Jones Trail to Ontario Rd for the return to the KOA campground.

This is a beautiful short loop with spectacular views which makes the climbing that much more rewarding!

Garmin Stats:
21.63 Miles with 1749′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1339′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Hilly

Weather: FABULOUS! Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the high 50’s to the high 60’s. Mild NW winds with 17% humidity.

The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir

Click here to view the interactive route map & profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:



  1. I followed this route yesterday, starting at Los Osos Rd in SLO. What an amazing ride, thanks for sharing the route!


  2. Daniel, You’re welcome! The ride is short, sweet and steep! Glad you enjoyed it, it’s one of my favorites whenever I get down to SLO.


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