1. THE POLY “P”
Every day, students look up and see the “P” on the mountain behind the Cerro Vista Apartments. Little do they know, it is one of the best places to watch the sunset. It’s an easy hike and doesn’t take too much time.
To get there, walk through the parking lot behind the red brick residence halls, to the overflow parking lot at the very back of the lot. There is a gate, but it is usually open or it is easy to get around.
One way to get to the “P” is to take the gravel road up to the big water container and then follow the walked paths. The other option is to take the gravel path halfway and then follow the path that goes straight up the mountain.
When the “P” is finally reached, there are levels that look like huge stairs to sit on. Most people climb to the top for a better view.
“By the time we got to the top, it was an amazing view. It was cool to see Poly from that view,” said Matt Howard, a business junior. “The lights from that angle were amazing.”
Not only is the sunset fantastic, but there is also a great view of campus, making the hike a great way to get to know the campus from a different angle. It is a common hike for students and a favorite among some.
“It was fun watching the sun go down on the steps,” said Mark Bozzo (CQ), a civil engineering senior. “You get a great view of Bishops Peak and Madonna Mountain.”
2. DAIRY CREEK AND EL CHORRO LOOP
El Chorro Regional Park is across from Cuesta College on Highway 1. The Dairy Creek hike is most noteworthy for its spectacular sunsets. This is a simple hike, but there are many cautions.
To get to the beginning of the loop, drive into the park all the way to the end of the road and park in the dirt parking lot. The entrance is right there.
Most of the path is paved making it easy to find which way to go. However, when the construction is reached, there are two options. One is to follow the paved road through the construction site. The other is to follow the trodden path through the tall grass.
If you continue along the road, the loop keeps going, but there is one other option. There is a trail that runs along side the construction and ends on a big gravel mound. Go that way. The best sunset viewing is there. The view overlooks rolling hills and a few farm structures. It is a nice change from a view of a city.
Now that all of this is said, there are the cautions. According to Slopost.org, “Camp San Luis Obispo borders the park and is posted ‘No Trespassing’ because of an impact area during WWII. Unexploded ammunition in this area could be hazardous. Be sure to stay on roadway and trails.”
3. BISHOP PEAK
Most students know Bishop Peak. Many talk about how necessary it is to hike it. There is a reason behind it. The sunset is the best in San Luis Obispo. It is one of the highest points in the city and has the best view.
The hike is pretty strenuous, but there are nice places to take rests along the way. The time of year makes a huge difference, said senior Rachel Foxhoven.
“If you hit it during the right time of year, that’s also when the warm night breeze sets in so you get to cool off from your hike and relax with a slight breeze in your face,” she said.
Even from lower levels of the mountain, the view is breathtaking. From the very top, the ocean and numerous mountains are visible. It’s awesome to see all of this in one glance, Foxhoven said.
The more difficult parts of this hike are at the beginning because it is a rougher incline. Near the top, it gets easier. The only part of the top that is difficult is the gathering of boulders at the peak.
Especially at this time year, there are lots of bright yellow flowers that make for a very nice photo opportunity. There are also numerous other plants and insects that run rampant on this hike. So keep a sharp eye.
Why do students specifically love this place?
“To slow down. It’s just nice to forget about everything that’s going on and kind of be stuck,” Foxhoven said. “It’s one of those things that it’s really hard to get away to do, but once you’re half way up you’re stuck finishing the process.”
So, even though it’s a more serious hike, the view and the tranquility is worth your while.
4. CERRO SAN LUIS
Cerro San Luis is the mountain that sits next to the freeway right off the Marsh Street exit when going south on U.S Highway 101 from Cal Poly. The hike is fairly easy, but requires some extra energy at the peak.
Though there are many places on the hike that appear to be off limits, getting to the top is possible.
“The hike may seem simple, but near the end it gets a little more difficult,” said Kay Rathe, a sophomore civil engineer. “When you get to the top, the view is totally worth the hike ” the view is amazing.”
To get to the trail, take the Marsh Street exit going southbound and take the immediate left. It is a small turn off and leads to a parking lot at the base of the mountain. The start of the trail is clearly in view.
“The trail was gravel the whole way up and there weren’t any plants to get in my way,” said Rathe. “I saw a lot of rabbits and birds both ways, but especially on the way down after sunset.”
The only obstacles on the path were the few potholes and the fences. There is one fence that looks like it is a blockage but it is just pipes hanging down that any one can pass through. They read “Please respect fences.” Potholes randomly appear often the whole hike. So watch for any that you can trip over.
“I had to walk along the stable part of the path the whole way because I knew with one wrong step I could be in one of those huge cracks that made potholes,” said Rathe.
5. THE ROSE GARDEN
Even though it is not well known, the rose garden by the business building and next to the new stadium is an ideal location to view the sunset. Its view of Bishop’s Peak and on campus location put it in the top five.
The garden is fairly large and there is a nice place to sit in the middle. There are two L-shaped benches facing diagonally from each other. A fountain that was a Construction Management project, according to the Cal Poly Land Web site (http://polyland.calpoly.edu), separates them.
A large area of grass surrounds the rose garden. Students often use this place to study or relax. This makes it convenient for viewing the sunset in the garden. When students are done with their studies they can take a break to sit on the benches and watch the sun disappear.
There are a large number of various roses planted in the garden. This leads to the question of how often new roses are added.
“Although new rose bushes are added every year, some of the roses that are present today are the original ones that were planted 25 years ago,” according to http://polyland.calpoly.edu.
Not only are there plants added, but the ornamental horticulture department often uses the garden for teaching pruning lectures.
For all the hikes and sunset viewing, bring a flashlight, warm clothes, something to sit on, long pants and always a camera. Happy hiking to you all.