Out and About

May 20, 2014 7:20 AM by Jeanette Trompeter

Out and About: Johnson Trail in SLO

As you have probably noticed, the hills are starting to turn brown along the Central Coast. But that doesn't mean they are less fun to explore. Photographer Kelly Teel and I found proof of that when we got out and about this week on the Johnson Trail.

An easy stop off Highway 101 the Johnson Trail is easily visible from the freeway. At least the first part of it. The trail-head is at the intersection of South Higuera Street and Ontario Road. Depending on your appetite for exercise on any given day, you have a few options. "It's a really good mix, it's not just a grind all the way up the hill." said Mountain-biker Greg Ray of Arroyo Grande as he came off the trail. "This has a really nice mix just between rolling uphills and fun downhills."

The most popular trek is loop of about 3-1/2 miles. I'd call it an easy to moderate hike depending on your fitness level. You can take a shortcut to trim it down to 2-1/2 miles, but a lot of regulars say the scenery makes it worth taking the long way around. "It's undulating, which is lovely because you get a workout." said Sandra Lavine of San Luis Obispo as she trekked the trail. "But it's just...it's goin to church. I'm in church every day when I come out here." she said.

It's most scenic when the grassy slopes are green but year round it provides lovely vistas of the varied terrain so easily accessable on the Central Coast. "Then you have the open fields, and then if you go over the hills, you have the trees." said Nancy Voglin or San Luis Obispo. "It's just beautiful. You just get out here and you're in the country." she said.

It takes about an hour to do the Johnson loop at a good clip. About half way through, you have a decision to make. You can stay on course or you can take the fork in the road to your right if you have the time, and maybe someone to pick you up on the other end. It will add maybe 45 minutes to an hour to your hike, but it will drop you at the Irish Hills trail. Or you can continue on your way.

The trail is perfect for anyone wanting to just stretch their legs a bit and clear their mind some. "I don't know...it's just fabulous. I feel like I'm in Europe and I go over that way there, like in italy or something like that." said Volgin.

The path is also smooth enough that those wanting to bump it up a level and run the hills can do so easily. The only ground obstacles are a few cattle crossings. There's a reason you often see so many heading up the hill as you're heading down the freeway.

"It's one of the best hikes there is in San Luis." said Lavine. "We used to see the pigs, the wild boar, there's just lots of wildlife. It's just, it's like Heaven. Slice of heaven." she said with a smile.

See our video journey tonight on KSBY at 6 p.m.

If you'd like to give the hike a try, and want more information, click here.

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