Road Trip Final Day: Ontario Ridge

This may be the best coastal hike we’ve done so far!

You can do this loop either clockwise or counterclockwise. We happened to do it counterclockwise and at the end we were glad we chose to do it this way. If you are like me and have acrophobia, I recommend doing it this way as well. There are multiple access to this trail. We started from Shell Beach.

Plug in the GPS coordinates (provided below) in to your GPS app and park on El Portal Dr near there. End of Bonita Street, you will see the trail access. Once you are on the trail, turn right. After 0.1 miles, turn left on the trail that’s going up north. This uphill soon meets up with Ontario Ridge Trail and when it does, turn right. At 0.25 miles, stay on your left. You will continue to gain elevation and have the view of San Luis Obispo on one side and the view of San Luis Obispo Bay on the other side.

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We haven’t even start the real climb yet! It’s steep but very doable. A little bit of scrambling is required in this section.

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We thought the top of that hill was the highest point of this hike but it wasn’t. 🙂 Meanwhile, we had a great view of San Luis Obispo Bay and the nearby beaches – Pismo Beach, Shell Beach & Avila Beach – along the way.

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When we reached the top, we found a swing near the T-Mobile towers which is not visible when you are hiking up. What is it about a swing that makes you feel instantly like a kid again? Love it! There is another swing in a better location not too far away if you keep going. It’s kind of hidden away from the trail but you can see it on your left. I would’ve gone in and taken a picture for you but it was already occupied by a couple so I didn’t want to disrupt their private moment.

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At 1.30 miles, you can either stay on Ontario Ridge Trail and make this hike shorter if you’d like or take Sycamore Trail on the right. Sycamore Trail soon became shady and cooler. And slowly but surely we started to go downhill. You know what that means. We’ll have to climb back up eventually.

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After 0.28 miles of peaceful stroll, we met up with Ontario Ridge Trail and we were faced with 0.4 miles of steep uphill. This section kicked by butt! 😀 Look at Xena taking a breather and wondering how much more she has to go. Haha!

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Ahh…at last we were presented with the view again. It’s all downhill from here. Just take in the view and enjoy the rest of the hike. When you come to a split at mile 2, turn right.

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Best view of San Luis Obispo Bay!

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As you know, Xena likes to roll on plants, grass, bushes, you name it… Well, she found this prickly plants to roll on. When she was finally satisfied, she walked out of the area looking like this. Her butt was in a worse condition. They were stuck between the layers of her fur. Ridiculous! First, I checked for ticks then had to remove those as much as I can.

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Would you look at her vest! Guess who had to pull out those things one at a time next day before putting it in the washing machine.

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Last hill before you reach Cave Landing Rd. This is the hill I’d rather go down then go up. I recommend shoes with good traction. Turn left on Cave Landing Rd and continue on to Shell Beach Bluff Trail which will take you through a neighborhood of impressive water-front properties. You will come out to Indio Dr. Turn left on El Portal Dr and you are done!

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Perfect ending to our fun spring road trip! This should be on everyone’s must-dos when visiting San Luis Obispo area!

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  4.16.16
  • Trailhead:  35.175980, -120.702903
  • Distance (RT):  3.5 miles
  • Elevation gain:  738 feet
  • Free street parking in the residential area
  • No restroom

Happy Hiking!

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Road Trip Day 2: Pet-friendly SLO

This is a sequel to my previous entry Road Trip – Spring Edition

Next Stop: Lunch at Santa Barbara

5 things you should know before going to a restaurant with your pup if you desire an enjoyable dining experience:

  1. Check on Yelp (or other website you rely on) ahead to make sure the restaurant outdoor patio is dog-friendly. When in doubt, call the restaurant and confirm.
  2. Pick a time when it’s not the busiest time. After rush lunch hours or before the dinner crowd fills the restaurant is the best. You will get a better service and your dog will be more relaxed since it’s not chaotic.
  3. If you can find a table away from the high traffic area, grab it. When your dog is relaxed, you can also relax and enjoy your meal.
  4. Be courteous to other diners in the restaurant. Keep your dog near you and have him under your control at all times.
  5. If your dog does not have a good table manner at home, you might want to re-consider…at least for now until he is trained. There will be more people to beg and more food to steal. 🙂

We arrived at State & Fig around 1:30 PM. The cozy outdoor patio was inviting. We got a table in the back as I hoped. I asked for a water bowl for Xena. She drank some water, sniffed around then settled under the table. After the awesome hike, we were hungry. We relaxed and enjoyed our meal. I recommend their burger with fig jam! 😋 Don’t worry, I gave Xena after-hike treats so her belly was happy too.

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I love driving through scenic Los Padres National Forest on route 154. Xena feels little uneasy when the altitude changes and the pressure in her ears bothers her. I wonder if her ears pop like ours. How else would they release the pressure? Me talking to her nonsense during that time seems to help her.

Next Stop: Pismo Beach

We arrived at Pismo Beach around 4 PM. We would be staying here for next 2 nights. Best Western Plus Shore Cliff Lodge received 5 bones on BringFido.com and it did not disappoint us. We got a dog-friendly room with an ocean view. There was a plenty of parking spaces close to the building entrance and conveniently, there was a Pet Relief Area (a small grass area) near the entrance. So far, so good. Then, we entered our room and found this welcome package for Xena. Pawsome!🐾  Now, I was impressed.

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and Xena was impressed with the view from the patio and the pet play area below. The pet play area rocks! It is clean and very spacious. We played fetch there before dinner both evening. A poop bag dispenser is available as well.

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Next day, after the free continental breakfast at the hotel (they have non-dairy options. Just ask!), we got on the road.

Destination: Justin Winery in Paso Robles

Justin Vineyard

Justin Winery is about 50 miles north from Pismo Beach. Another pretty drive. Outdoor shady patio and dining area are dog-friendly. Our wine steward brought out a water bowl and a treat for Xena.

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Never been to a wine tasting room and would like to try? Here are some tips for wine tasting room etiquette if interested. Most wineries have dog-friendly patios. Some of them even allow dogs in their tasting rooms which is awesome! Just make sure to confirm by checking their website or calling them before you go. Here is a list of dog-friendly wineries in the Pismo Beach area if you’d rather stay near by the beach.

By the time we got back to the room, we all needed a nap. 🙂 That was pretty much the 2nd day of our trip and it was a nice day. I will continue with the last day of our trip in the next post. I can’t wait to tell you about the trail we explore! Best coastal hike with incredible views!

xoxo~

Road Trip Day 1: Wildwood Park

I get itchy if I don’t travel every 3 months. 2 1/2 months is the longest I can go happily with my daily routines. After that, I need to have a getaway plan to get through the routines. Couple weeks ago, I packed my bags for a long weekend at Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County. I was happy that my sister could join us.

1st Day –

First Stop: Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks

Since I hiked here first week of April and wanted to go back and explore more. It was Hazel’s first time so I was excited for her. We began our hike from the main parking lot off W Avenida De Los Arboles at 9:25 am. From Mesa Trail, we took N Tepee Trail toward Tee Pee / Paradise Falls at 0.4 miles. Then, we took Stagecoach Bluff Trail.

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View of N Tepee Trail and Mesa Trail from Stagecoach Bluff Trail

We hiked 0.2 miles to the top of the (little) hill (elevation: 730 ft) and enjoyed the view. We could see the Tepee Trail and the creek straight ahead. That’s where we were going.

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View of Tepee Trail and the creek below

If you stay on Stagecoach Bluff Trail and continue on, you will eventually meet Mesa Trail. But, that was not my plan. We retraced back to a junction where Stagecoach Bluff Trail splits. This trail is a triangle shape here so both trails will take you back to N Tepee Trail. We chose the trail we haven’t been on yet. I am so glad we did because it was so pretty with wildflowers next 0.25 miles.

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We met up with N Tepee Trail and hiked down towards Tee Pee. As I promised in my previous post, here is a picture of a close-up Tee Pee. It’s huge! One of the things I really like about this park is, it has many places you can relax and enjoy yourself. And the best part is, in my opinion, these areas are spread out all over the park. Note: there is a water fountain here if you need to fill up your bottle.

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While listening to the waterfalls, we continued on Tepee Trail towards Paradise Falls. When we came to a path to the waterfalls after 0.13 miles, we ignored the sign and stayed on Tepee Tr. We could see the top of the Paradise Falls from the trail. The picture below was taken with a telephoto lens.

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At 1.6 miles, we met up with Wildwood Canyon Trail and turned left. It led us to a spacious picnic area with a water fountain and a restroom. There were many picnic tables in the shade. Check out that cool BBQ!

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After passing the picnic area, there was a little bridge so you can cross over the creek. At 2 miles, we reached at Paradise Falls. Since it was a weekday, we had the waterfalls all to ourselves. In fact, we were alone pretty much the entire time we explored the park. Aren’t the rocks behind the waterfalls beautiful?

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Whenever you are ready to continue, go up and take Wildwood Canyon Trail again. This is the trail above the waterfalls with a fence to keep you safe. It leads you to a small picnic area next to the creek. It’s secluded and inviting. So we played there a little and worked on Xena’s fear of water. She is getting better. Yay!!

 

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Once we were on Wildwood Canyon Trail again, we followed the sign for Indian Cave and at 2.5 miles, we took a single track to the cave. I’d like to check out Meadows Cave next time.

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From Wildwood Canyon Trail, we took Moonridge Trail to go back to the trailhead. All of sudden, now we were in a land of cacti. Every trail on this hike had a different personality and kept us interested. Even though the loop we made was only 3.5 miles, it was full of outdoor fun! Our road trip started on a fabulous note!

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Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  4.14.16
  • Trailhead:  928 W. Avenida de los Arboles, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
  • Distance (RT) and type:  3.5 miles, loop
  • Elevation change:  485 ft
  • Family-friendly
  • Restroom at the BBQ area (at 1.65 miles)
  • Xena’s wearing a Ruffwear Swamp Cooler cooling vest.

Next Stop: Santa Barbara ~ to be continued

Paradise Falls

Wildwood Park is in Ventura County. I loved this place so much, I went twice this month! Since I extended the route for our second hike, I decided to write two separate posts. This is a 3-mile loop hike that includes a tepee and waterfalls. We arrived at the parking lot just a little after 7 AM. The sun was still rising and the morning sunlight made everything look soft and warm like a baby blanket.

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Right away, I knew I was going to like this park. It was beautiful. The park was huge and open and there were signs showed that it was well-maintained. And Arizona-like rock formation surrounding the park on the right was impressive to say the least.

Hike starts on Mesa Trail.

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Mesa Trail

At 0.4 miles, turn left on to N Tepee Trail toward Tee Pee / Paradise Falls.

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N Tepee Trail

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Tee Pee would be a good place for a break if you need one. There is a lot of seating spaces inside. I will share a photo of the inside in Part II.

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Rule #15: ChuckIt goes where I go

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From Tee Pee, I could hear the waterfalls. We followed the sign for Paradise Falls. After going down on Tepee Trail for 0.13 miles, there was a little sign for the falls. Turn left and follow that path. There were two picnic tables near the falls. How lovely!

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Not a bad shot considering this was taken without a tripod.

Whenever you are ready to continue, go back up and take Wildwood Canyon Trail. This is the trail above the falls with a fence to keep you safe. It leads you to another picnic area next to the creek at 1.38 miles. This is where I found a green heart-shaped rock. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I have a thing for heart-shaped rocks. I was thrilled to find this one! It always feels like nature is sending me love. And the feeling is mutual.

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At 1.5 miles, we took Lynnmere Trail, just to see where it takes us. We had to cross the creek via a wooden bridge. Shortly after, we came out to a meadow and there was a use trail on the left. I could hear the water flowing. We took the use trail and found this place. Clear shallow water was inviting us to play fetch. So we did. I worked with Xena on her fear of water and we made a huge progress that day.

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When we had our fill, we backtracked to Wildwood Canyon Trail then followed the sign for Indian Cave. We didn’t explore the Indian Cave that day because it started to get too warm. Instead, we stayed on the fire road until we met up with Mesa Trail again. From here, the trailhead is only 0.25 miles away.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  4.2.16
  • Trailhead:  928 W. Avenida de los Arboles, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
  • Distance (RT) and type:  3 miles, loop
  • Elevation change:  354 ft
  • Family friendly
  • No restroom on this route
  • Trail rules and map

 

Happy Hiking!

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Cold Springs Trail to Montecito Peak

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.  — Edward Abbey

Trailhead is located on E Mountain Drive in Santa Barbara. There is a wood sign at the trail.
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With canopies of trees and a gradual incline, the trail started out nice and easy. We ran in to a couple of solo hikers with their dogs. I could tell they were doing a shorter hike. Good idea.. Hike to Montecito Peak would be too hot for the dogs at this time of the year. That’s why I made Xena sit out on this one. After a mile or so, we started to gain elevation. After a while, the dirt terrain changed to rocky and the slope got noticeably steeper. Eventually, we caught up with clouds.

imageThe shade of the rocks changed from light yellow to gold then to orange-ish yellow as we ascend. In this rocky area, this interesting vibrant plant was growing everywhere. Its stem and branches were covered with this burgundy rubbery looking layer and the outgrown branches were ripping the protective layer open. Nature is amazing, isn’t it?
After a while, the rocky terrain changed back to dirt and we hiked above the clouds.

And then, there was the tree. Just one tree.

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We continued on. The last quarter mile or so to the peak was one of the hardest trail conditions I had to hike through. I don’t think I could’ve done it without my trekking poles. The slope was very steep and the loose dirt caused constant sliding. We had to work hard to not lose our footing and fall. There was a moment I thought I was crazy for wanting to do this on my birthday as I tried not to fall. Then, we reached the top. And the thought disappeared quickly as it came. The view was worth it.

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The biggest heart-shaped rock yet!

After a short break, as we were getting ready to go back down, I found a shed snakeskin on a bush!! It’s a long one too. I was sitting close to it all along and didn’t even see it! It was scary and so cool at the same time. Hazel wanted to leave as soon as I spotted it. 🙂

Downhill is more challenging when you keep sliding.

We ran into a small snake on the way down. It definitely wasn’t the one that shed the skin. Nonetheless, all of us including the snake were nervous and alert. After a few minutes of stillness, the little guy began to move across the path. At the end, we all went on with our business and everyone was happy.

Details on this Hike:

  • Date: July 2015
  • Distance: 6.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2243 ft
  • Dog-friendly

Happy Hiking!

Sisterly Birthday Celebration

July is my favorite month since I was a kid! I can’t believe how fast the month went by. Time flies when you are having fun. Right?! 🙂 My sister’s birthday is the day before mine. When we were kids, mom used to throw us one party. It was economical. As kids, we weren’t thrilled about having the combo party. Thinking back, not all kids were able to have birthday parties when I was a child in Korea so I realize as an adult that it was sweet of our mom.

Now as grown-ups, my sister and I still celebrate our birthdays together. If time allows, we try to make a quick getaway. Just two of us. We cherish our time together and have fun celebrating two days in a row. It’s funny how our views change as we get older. This year, we celebrated our birthdays in Santa Barbara.

On the eve of Hazel’s birthday, we hiked up to Inspiration Point to see the sunset. This dog-friendly, out and back trail is shared by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikes. With a short distance of 3.6 miles, it can be done in an hour if you are in a workout mode. Even though the limited street parking may be a challenge on weekends but on a weekday evening, we easily found a spot. We started around 6:30 pm. The trail was mostly in the shade by that time. That was a nice surprise because it was unusually hot for Santa Barbara.

Another hiker warned us about a snake on the top as we passed each other. When we reached Inspiration Point, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, we were greeted by fantastic 180 degrees of ocean view!


Next day, we celebrated Hazel’s birthday with wine tasting in Paso Robles. It is about 130 miles north of Santa Barbara. The scenic route 154 was a lovely drive. It was our first time in Paso Robles. What a lovely place! ♡ We decided to make Paso Robles an annual trip. We will probably stay in San Luis Obispo though.

Wine tasting in Justin.


Wine tasting in Daou

I love this picture of Hazel. It’s not easy to capture her natural smile in pictures. She was happy and I was able to capture the moment.

At night, Hazel kept talking to me in the bed in an effort to keep us stay up…as usual. I responded to her as usual, “Go to sleep! It’s my turn!” before turning off the light. We both laughed and soon we fell asleep. Hazel before me as usual.