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Morro Bay State Park

Black Hill Trail

To Black Hill summit is 3 miles round trip with 600-foot elevation gain

A series of nine peaks between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay originated as volcanoes beneath the sea that covered this area some fifteen million years ago. After the sea and volcanic explosions subsided, erosion began dissolving the softer mountain material around the volcanic rock and left nine volcanic peaks standing high above the surrounding landscape. These volcanic plugs include Hollister Peak and famed Morro Rock.

Black Hill, the last peak in the volcanic series before Morro Rock, has a trail that tours a little of everything—chaparral, eucalyptus, oaks, pines, and coastal shrubs. From the mountain’s 640-foot summit, you can view the Morro Bay Estuary, the sand spit, and the hills of nearby Montaña de Oro State Park.

Directions to trailhead: Follow Coast Highway for 12 miles north of San Luis Obispo to the Los Osos-Baywood Park exit just before Morro Bay. Turn south on South Bay Boulevard and go 0.75 mile to Morro Bay State Park entrance. Bear left on the first fork beyond the entrance, heading one mile to the campground entrance directly across from the state park marina lot, where you should park. Park along the first crossroads inside the campground. Walk up the campground road to join the trail.

The hike:
Walk up the group camp access road, past the group camp rest-room. Follow the trail under the power lines between the golf course on the left and Chorro Group Camp on the right, cross a paved road and begin ascending
the mountain. A mile from the trail-head, there’s a junction. Bear left. The route becomes steeper, passing first through coastal shrubs then conifers. The trail passes a water tank, then switchbacks to the summit.

After enjoying the fine view, you may return the same way or return via the east fork of the old exercise trail by backtracking 0.5 mile to the trail junction, then heading straight (east). You’ll discover a eucalyptus grove, where monarch butterflies cluster. Cross a golf course road and rejoin the eastern section of the Exercise Trail, which returns you to the trailhead.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at