Oso Flaco Lake

Located just off scenic Highway 1 in southern San Luis Obispo County, Oso Flaco Lake is an 800 acre day use area in the southern portion of the Oceano Dunes SVRA and is part of the 22,000 acre Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes Complex.  This land is designated for hiking, fishing, bird watching, nature study and other non-motorized uses.

Trail Length: 1 mile from the trailhead to beach overlook; 2 miles total round trip

Trail Description: The trail takes you through a lush riparian corridor lined with willow trees and wetland species.  As you approach Oso Flaco Lake, the trail turns into a bridge pathway which takes you over the lake! Along the path there are several benches to rest on, fish from, or simply enjoy the serene surroundings.  As the trail heads west into the coastal sand dune habitat, a boardwalk trail leads visitors out to the shoreline where you can walk down onto the beach or enjoy the sweeping Pacific Ocean views from the viewing deck.  Along the way, interpretive panels highlight information about native plants and wildlife that you will see from the trail. 

Trail Hours: The trail and parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset.


Wildlife Viewing Etiquette

Oso Flaco Lake is an incredible area to go bird watching and to see wildlife in their natural habitat! The goal of viewing wildlife at the park and beach is to observe animals without interrupting their normal behaviors.  A great tool for wildlife viewing is binoculars, which allow you to observe wildlife from a safe distance that does not disturb or startle the animal.  Also, please do not feed the wildlife.  It is harmful to the animals but also harmful to humans, as the animal can become aggressive.

Ocean Safety

Never swim alone and always keep an eye on the ocean, never turning your back to the breaking waves.  The surf along San Luis Obispo County coastline is extremely powerful and even on calm days, when the ocean may appear calm, dangerous rip currents and deep inshore holes around sandbars are present.   If you get caught in a rip current, do not panic.  Instead, stay calm - the rip current will not pull you underwater.  Float and swim parallel to the beach until free from the current, and then head for shore by following the crashing white water of the waves into the beach.   

If you witness a water related emergency, call 911. 


Activities for Kids

Cartoon Snowy Plover bird in State Park Uniform waving with feathered wing.Help Secret Agent Polly the Plover on her mission to discover the Oso Flaco Boardwalk! Download the Agents of Discovery App on your smartphone or tablet and select the Oso Flaco Lake mission!

The App is FREE and does not require WiFi or cellular data to play once installed!  Agents of Discovery is an augmented reality App that allows users to independently explore the park through playing interactive games and trivia.  We reccommend installing the app at home while on WiFi and preloading the content by opening the Oso Flaco Lake mission. At the park, users are able to search for challenges and answer questions about plants and animals you may see along the boardwalk trail!