Distance: 4 miles roundtrip (out-and-back). Elevation gain: 1600 ft. Incredible ocean views of Morro Bay. Starts at the Cerro Alto Campground. Beautiful views of the Central Coast. Well-groomed trail starting in shade.

Cerro Alto Peak is a great, dog friendly hike that offers amazing views of Morro Bay. There is a less steep variation of this hike that tacks on some extra distance, but this description looks at the more direct route. The trailhead can be reached at the end of Cerro Alto Road, which is the road for the Cerro Alto Campground, as well. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the parking lot for the trailhead from Morro Bay.

The first mile of this hike is absolutely gorgeous, with lots of tree cover and leaves underfoot. One thing that’s near impossible to write about is the way it smells. The combination of sage, ocean air, and other olfactory stimuli are heavenly here.

After about a mile of hiking you will catch your first glimpse of the Cerro Alto summit. As you continue to climb and approach the summit, you will see Morro Bay and Montana de Oro. You will also see the Ridge Trail that breaks away from the Cerro Alto Trail just shy of the summit. After two miles of steady uphill hiking, you will see the summit of Cerro Alto and can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Central Coast.

Pack List

  • Hiking essentials
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hiking shoes
  • Sun protection
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Activities Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking


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Overall rating: 

Early is better

This is a steep hike, done better early in the morning during the summer if you want to be more comfortable, and if you have a dog. The humidity and summer temps can make it uncomfortable for the not so experienced and animals. Luckily there is a small stream with cold water that can help you cool off about 1/4 of the way up the first mile. The hike is 3 miles one way, 6 in total. The first mile takes you to a sign that indicates the summit is another two miles up hill. This is where we turned around as it was too much for my family. Not recommended for young children or elderly. However if you are prepared and carry plenty of water, I am sure the reward of reaching the peak would not be disappointing! I would do this hike again with my husband only. Parking is $10 for day use and $25 for a campsite overnight. Payment goes in an envelope and receipt tears off to place in your vehicle.


Great hike! Just a heads up parking is 10$

almost 2 years ago

Great Workout

Good for the soul!

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