San Luis Obispo Section 5

Cambria to East Fork Villa Creek

San Luis Obispo Section 5

Cambria to East Fork Villa Creek

Suddenly public access to the coast once again becomes scarce. We begin this section at the Fiscalini/East-West Ranch Blufftop Trail because public access has been agreed to there. For now the old ranch property remains undeveloped and natural, but subdivision of the property may be only a matter of time since this would join the north and south halves of Cambria west of Highway 1, with an extended Windsor Blvd. being the coastal thoroughfare.

Go enjoy this portion of the coast while it's still in a natural state. The trail has been kept open to the public because volunteer "trail guides" agree to patrol the path across private land. They may ask you to sign a liability waiver to pass through, a small enough price to pay tor access to the pleasant bluffs above a rocky shore.

From there south, the Coastal Trail is currently forced to follow road shoulders for 10⅛ miles, the longest uninterrupted stretch since northern Big Sur. If you go, stay out of the roadway and walk facing traffic on this mostly straight leg l of Highway 1 where traffic moves quite fast.
From the south end of the street, walk through the gap in the fence and follow the East -West Ranch blufftop path southwest. Climb gently to the path's summit in 250 feet, then contour out to a point around ⅛ mile where you overlook a rocky, convoluted shoreline with a small bay to the north. Contour along the blufftop trail, passing a unique driftwood and stone bench with great view north to Ragged Point and beyond.
The path meanders away from the shore, crossing an unusual bridge over a small arroyo at ¼ mile. By ⅜ mile the ocean is once again directly below on your right. Continue across a boardwalk through seasonal wetlands. Pass another great driftwood bench beyond ½ mile.

Contour out around one more point at ⅝ mile, then descend gently to cross another bridge. The path continues to the property's south gate around ⅞ mile. From there the only route currently available for CCT follows quiet residential streets to Highway 1, then follows the highway shoulder south to section's end. If you are looking for more coastal access, you'll find it at the ends of Wedgewood, Castle, Harvey and Lampton streets, and at Lampton Cliffs County Park near the latter.

From the East-West Ranch south gate, follow sleepy Windsor Blvd. south for three blocks, turn left and walk up Orlando Drive two blocks, then turn right and ascend Madison Street to its end at Ardath Drive at 1½ miles. Turn left and walk the shoulder of Ardath, a mildly busy thoroughfare, up to Highway 1 at 2¾ miles. Cross the highway at the traffic signal, turn right and walk the highway shoulder south. The highway descends the canyon of Fiscalini Creek to 4 miles, then climbs along Perry Creek until it reaches the tiny town of Harmony (limited services) at 6¾ miles.

Continue south along the highway shoulder, ascending to a 300-foot summit around 7¼ miles, then making a gentle descent along Ellysly Creek to return to the coastal environment. Approach a coastal valley drained by Villa Creek at 10½ miles. Cross the Villa Creek bridge at 10⅝ miles and continue along the shoulder to the next bridge at 11 miles. This section ends there at the East Fork of Villa Creek.

ALTERNATE ROUTE: From Cambria's northernmost stoplight at the north end of Windsor Blvd., you have the pleasant town option of walking Main Street through the friendly town. Main Street ends at the Ardath Drive-Highway 1 intersection.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: Walk the East-West Ranch blufftop path, 1¾ miles round trip.

Distance: 11 miles (17.7 kilometers).

Open to: Hikers. Dogs OK on trail portion. Bicyclists on road portion.

Surface: Trail, street, highway shoulder.

Access point: End of Windsor Blvd.

How to get there: Turn west off Highway 1 in Cambria at the northernmost stoplight, Milepost 50.6, onto Windsor Blvd. and go 1.0 mile to its end.

Other access: Ardath Drive, Highway 1.

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain/loss: 660 feet+/680 feet-. Trail portion: 20 feet+/60 feet-.

Cautions: At East-West Ranch, gates close at sunset. Stay on trail and off adjacent private property. Watch for traffic on road portions.

Further information: East-West Ranch office (805)927-0500.

Facilities: None.

Campgrounds: San Simeon State Park north of Cambria has 202 units. Town of Morro Bay to south has camping in 2 state parks and 2 private campgrounds.

Lodging: Several choices in both Cambria and Cayucos. Morro Bay Home Hostel (805)772-9005 is miles south of section's south end.

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