Hikers on the Bishop Peak Trail revel in vistas.
Just four miles round-trip and 1,100 feet up, Bishop Peak Trail yields big rewards for modest effort. The mountain, with spires that resemble a Catholic bishop's headgear, is the immutable backdrop of life in San Luis Obispo, Calif. It even supplied blocks of stone for some of the city's curbstones and foundations.
The path up the hill passes through a forest of California bay and coast live oak before swinging up the southern face into sage-scented chaparral with sweeping views. The rocky top of the peak itself is a protected nature area.
As hawks wheel above, hikers look down on the city, spilled at the feet of Cerro San Luis Obispo and Islay Hill, which, along with Bishop Peak, are the southernmost of the Nine Sisters.
Volcanoes that never erupted, these hills formed when globs of magma welled up, hardened, and outlasted the softer rock around them, leaving spines that arc across Los Osos Valley to Morro Rock on the coast. (805) 781-7300, slocity.org/parksandrecreation/bishop_peak.asp.
Photography by David E. Garth
This article was first published in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.