Night hiking in San Luis Obispo has been banned since 1998. However, that recently changed with the launch of a two-year pilot program approved last year by the city council.
Those wishing to hike after sundown this winter can now do so – with a permit.
For now, the 4.9 miles of trails on Cerro San Luis — commonly known as Madonna Mountain — are the only trails in the city to allow night hiking.
The free permit is accessible through a QR code at the trailhead or through the city’s website. The permit extends to all city trails on the mountain, including the Lemon Grove Loop and the M Trail.
According to signs posted at the trailhead, a permit is required after 6 p.m. and the trail will close at 8:30 p.m. Only 65 permits are issued nightly.
Those who hike at night will need to provide proof of a permit to a patrolling ranger or face a citation of $561.
The evening access will extend from November to March.
Trail cameras will monitor if the nighttime access affects the behavior of local animal populations during the two-year period.