California State Parks staff at the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area lead the popular "Path of the Padres" hikes for the public on Saturdays in early spring, excluding holidays. These hikes are open to the public, ages 6 years and older, by advance reservation only.


Call 209-826-1197 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for reservations. There is a fee of $20 per person which includes the park entry fee. Space may be limited, so early reservations are recommended. Scheduled hikes may be canceled if minimum number of hikers is not met. The hike begins at the Los Banos Creek Reservoir boat launch ramp at 9 a.m. and returns to the ramp about 3:30 p.m.

Hike Details

A pontoon boat carries passengers for about 30 to 40 minutes to the west end of the reservoir. Along the way, short stops are made so the hikers can observe wildlife along the shore. This 5-mile hike is moderately strenuous and will take approximately five hours. Because Los Banos Creek is crossed several times during the hike, footwear may get wet. Please prepare for your adventure by bringing layers, a hat, sunscreen, a lunch and a minimum of two quarts of water.

The "Path of the Padres" got its name because it was the path through the Diablo Mountain Range taken by the padres as they came from Mission San Juan Bautista, 35 miles along Los Banos Creek and into the Central Valley in the early 1800s. Later travelers along the same route were the Spanish missionaries, Californios, miners and ranchers. As early as 1805 the mission padres and accompanying soldiers washed and rested here at Los Banos del Padre Arroyo, now simply Los Banos Creek. The lunch stop is near the historic "baths," deep pools in the creek, carved in bedrock, which gave Los Banos its name. Help us find clues from the past which indicate the early existence of the Yokuts, who lived along the creek. Visitors will have the opportunity to walk in their footsteps, and see some of the special plants that grow along the creek, including beautiful displays of wildflowers. You may be lucky enough to site animals that have been drawn to its waters, such as wild pigs, deer, coyotes, pond turtles, and even bald eagles.

Throughout the hike, the natural and historic features of the area are pointed out and discussed by the hike leader. Participants have the option of taking a side trip through a canyon floor covered with 576 acres of old-growth Sycamore forest and up a steep hill for a spectacular view of the Menjoulet Canyon and the proposed site of the Los Banos Grandes Reservoir. Join us for this epic adventure and discover a part of San Luis Reservoir that most people do not get to see.


Path of Padres Hike

Be the first to know! 

Dates for this tour are announced annually. Watch this page, along with the San Luis Reservoir SRA Facebook page for announcements. This information is typically available after the first of the year.