Today we made an outing to Santa Margarita Lake. The lake is about 30 miles from our Pismo Beach Campground on the north side of San Luis Obispo. It is a county park built around a man-made lake on the Salinas River. The dam was built in the 1920s and open for boating (no swimming) in the 1950s. It stores the drinking water for the city of San Luis Obispo.
When we arrived, we first drove around the park to get our bearings.
small boats across the lake. Notice how down the lake level is.
Looking across the lake. It is much longer than wider!
Some huge water valves for controlling the drinking water flow. These must have been replaced by others. Note the fence to the right to get a sense of the size of these valves.
Looking down along the lake.
Across the lake, you can see one of the hiking trails going up the hill.
We brought a picnic lunch and parked at a table just above the lake. It was a bit chilly outside, but we decided to eat at the table and brave the temperature. Other than an occasional airplane flying overhead, it was very quiet. But I am sure in the summer, there are lots of boats on the lake so it would only get nosier as the year marches on.
After lunch we decided to take one of the hiking trails. The one we chose, Grey Pine Loop, was 1.4 miles. The path is also used by mountain bikes and horses, though for now it is closed to them, because it is too wet. For us though, since it had not rained for awhile, the path was actually in good shape.
The trail goes up and down the hills. I measured the difference using my GPS app on my phone and found out that the maximum gain in elevation was 212 feet. However, it goes up and down in 60-100 foot sections, so you actually do quite a bit of climbing.
One of the things we noticed were the trees which have lost their leaves for the winter. Except some trees have these dense cluster of leaves even this time of year. I remember reading somewhere that these are actually parasitic growths in the trees which explains why they are so different.
The trail has some great scenery on it including the view of the rocky cliffs shown below.
As you walk along the path, there are some areas with steep drop-offs to one side. Below you can see the large mossy covered rocks and the trail narrowing as it crosses one of these areas with a steep cliff below the trail.
Another mossy rock with a bare southern exposure
A view of the lake in the distance
As you walk on, you actually get quite a distance away from and above the lake. The path supposedly loops down to the road and you can then walk back on that. We got 40 minutes in on the path and didn’t see any sign of the trail looping down to the road. We were afraid either it wasn’t marked properly or maybe we somehow missed it, as we felt like we had been walking forever.
So we turned around and headed back to the car. The trip back felt quicker, probably because overall, there was a 212 foot loss of elevation. Once we got to the car, we decided to see if we could find the end of the trail where it meets the road. We found it and it appeared to us that we really weren’t very far from reaching it if we had not turned back.
Having walked so much of the trail, during the ride back to the RV, we talked about walking the full trail down to the road and then turning around and coming back on the trail. It would make it a longer walk, but I bet we could do it soon! With all the exercise we are getting, these longer walks aren’t so hard to do as they used to be.