Central Coast Trails EP 1: Montaña De Oro

Christopher Blevins / Mountain Biking

In the first-ever Wildland Protection Series: Central Coast’s Hidden Gems, U23 World Championship Silver Medalist in XC MTN Biking, Christopher Blevins takes us to his favorite trails in Central Coast.

 

Every week, I like to drive up to Montaña De Oro (aka MDO) and spend my morning riding my favorite trails there. Most of my rides in MDO have just been me with no one else around. Up and down the coastline, in and out of the crisp central coast fog; it's always just me. But now the secret's out, and I'm here to share MDO's hidden gems. 

Regardless of your level of experience with mountain biking, I can promise you that there is a trail in this State Park for you. Here are my five favorite trails (listed in the level of difficulty) with cool lookouts and jumps to find! 

 _________________

Bluff Trail: Beginner / 2 to 4.5 miles / 285 ft ↑ 233 ft ↓
Where I took my friends out for their first MTB ride ever

The Bluff trail starts above Spooner's Cove and ends at the far end of MDO. The dirt path traces along the ocean cliffs, and there are multiple outcroppings and benches to stop to take the view in. There are short spurts of single-track, which are great for practice, especially if you're just getting into mountain biking. In the springtime, yellow flowers speckle throughout the meadow and cliff line, and it's common to see dozens of rabbits sharing the path with you.

 _________________

Islay Creek Road: Beginner to Intermediate / 11.4 miles out and back / 595 ft ↑ 295 ft ↓ 

Islay Creek Road heads away from the coast and into the hills to the east end of MDO. It cuts through the middle of a few different trails, allowing access to Canyon View, Reservoir Flats, and Barranca / East Boundary. About 2.5 miles up on the right, there's an old barn with poison oak stretching up like decorative vines, so watch out! I've also encountered owls in there, so be sure to stop and listen for some hoots.

 _________________

Hazard's Peak: Intermediate / 4.2 miles to summit and back, more for the full trail / 1,067 ft ↑ 456 ft ↓ 

 

 

Hazard's Peak is the most popular trail in MDO - and for a good reason: the summit. From the top, you get a clear view of Morro Rock and see as far south as Grover Beach on clear days. You also get a lot of bang for your buck on the descent down, which is broken up into few distinct sections with different terrains. The main trail climbs from the parking lot in between the eucalyptus grove and Spooner's Cove. You can also get to the top by the newly built Canyon View trail or on the other side, starting with Horse Camp road. 

_________________

Oats Peak: Intermediate to Advanced 5.3 (one way) / 1,539 ft ↑ 222 ft ↓ 

Oats Peak is a nice but windy climb up for the majority of the ride. The ample amount of switchbacks means the trail cuts more gradually into the hills. Once you get into the heart of MDO's volcanic-looking peaks, the trail hits a couple of very steep sections. It culminates with a wildly steep quarter-mile pitch to the top of Oat's Peak. Major kudos if you can ride this one without putting a foot down! The descent down from the top always feels like you drop more in elevation than you climbed up: a rare treat for mountain biking. 

_________________

East Boundary: Advanced / 2.8 miles  / 634 ft ↑ 831 ft ↓
I’ve done a few mock-races here to train for the now postponed Olympics 2020

(AllTrails map includes Hazard's Peak. East Boundary begins around 7.5 miles in)

The East Boundary stretches a bit further from the coast. You'll know you're on this trail when the dirt begins to get a bit more clay-like (meaning it gets extremely muddy in the rain). You've reached the top of East Boundary when you come across a set of tools for volunteer trail maintenance. Big thanks to CCMB for providing this and for keeping the trails in such good shape year-round!  The trail down has a few steep sections and a bunch of rollers. If you have a bike with bigger suspension, East Boundary and the parallel Barranca is where you should head out to.

_________________

Watch Christopher's ride through MDO trail: