Los Osos: Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve Hike

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve sits at the south end of Los Osos; the coastal dune greenbelt connects Montana de Oro State Park and Morro Bay State Park. This out & back hike offers stunning panoramic views of Morro Bay, the Morros and Los Osos Valley on the ascent from Los Osos to the trail’s highest point at Montana de Oro State Park.

Begin this hike from the Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve Trailhead at the south end of Broderson Ave in Los Osos.

The trail begins on a broad gravel road with a gradual incline as you cut through the grasses toward the sage covered slopes.

As the trail curves to the left, turn around and admire the amazing views of Morro Bay and the Morros-Morro Rock, Cerro Cabrillo and Hollister Peak; a chain of nine volcanic peaks and hills between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.

The trail curves back to the right and continues climbing southward before entering a sandy narrow ravine section.

At the trail split-stay left and continue climbing up through the narrow tight ravine to the three-way junction. Stay straight and continue up the ravine; the trail opens up to a steep worn rock wall staircase towards the ridge.

Enjoy the magnificent panoramic views!


The trail climbs up another steep staircase of exposed rocks to a broad shoulder near the ridge at the Ecological Reserve boundary line.

Continue going up and up along the rocky steep slope towards the eucalyptus grove at the top of the ridge.The trail climbs southwest as it enters Montana de Oro State Park.

Enjoy the gorgeous views of the verdant canyons surrounding the park!

You’re near the top when the eucalyptus grove comes into view. Continue straight pass the grove towards the trail junction.

On the right, just off the trail, there is vista point area with a metal bench. Sit awhile and enjoy the gorgeous ridge top views!


Turn around and retrace your steps back to the trail head on Broderson Ave. You can also continue straight and keep turning right at the trail splits for a lollipop loop back to the start. For us-the kids wanted to go back through the sandy ravine and rocky staircase-it’s fun and exciting!

This is a fabulous short scenic hike with phenomenal northward views of Los Osos Valley and Morro Bay! Make it a family affair-everyone will enjoy the beautiful coastal dune landscape-especially the kids! So get out your hiking shoes and kick up some sand!

2.2 Miles with 720′ of elevation gain
Time: 1 hour
Hike: Moderate-challenging
Parking: Plenty of free street parking at the end of Broderson Ave-NO facilities
Bring water & snacks
Dog Friendly

Weather: Partial clouds with plenty of sunshine. Temps ranged from the mid to high 60’s with SW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Morro Dunes


  1. Hi, I am curious about your reasons for posting about “secret spots”. Your about Me statement says “Choosing to write and sharing my gratitude and blessings has brought me closer and connects me to this magnificent world that I am a part of. I’m not deliberately different, I’m just me.” Have you ever been contacted before by dismayed people who actually live in the places you write about and then advertise to the whole world? We are not blessed and grateful to have people inviting everyone to park in front of our house.I have lived at the Broderson Trailhead for 17 years. The amount of people now coming from all over the U.S. continues to grow due to people spreading the word about how wonderful it is to park in front of my house and my neighbors’. There is no parking lot here. We have hikers from 5:30 until after dark. Many are not courteous, we hear their cell phone calls as they stand in front of our house sometimes for 20 minutes blabbing while their off-leash dogs run and poop in our yards and upset our pets. What would be great is for bloggers, reporters and hikers to ask people who live in these areas think before sharing to the world. I wish you many happy rides and hikes.


  2. We just had a meeting with a SlO County Parks Commissioner, Sorry to inform everyone, but this is an illegal trail, so it should not be posted on RideChronicles. It starts on a San Luis Obispo County maintenance access road in their Mitigation Effort of the leach field site. The trail is not maintained by any of the three agencies (SLOCO, California Fish and Wildlife, State Parks) or private property owners. None of them have the desire or funding to maintain this trail. If you have questions you can contact SLO County Public Works Dept.


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