San Luis Obispo, CA: Bishop Peak

Climb to the highest of Central California’s Nine Sisters on this 3.5-mile out-and-back to Bishop Peak.
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Climb to the highest of Central California’s Nine Sisters on this 3.5-mile out-and-back to Bishop Peak.

Spanning the green-tinted coastal plains between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo is a chain of 20,000,000-year-old volcanic peaks known as the Nine Sisters. Summit the highest of these dormant volcanoes on this 3.5-miler to Bishop Peak. There are three trailheads leading to Bishop: this route begins at the middle trailhead off Highland Drive. Start by heading north through a thick grove of trees featuring gigantic oak trees branching over the trail. At mile 0.2, you’ll hit a Y-junction and connect with the Bishop Peak Trail, which curves around to the west before ducking back into the woods.
Emerge from the forest for a second and final time before circling through Bishop’s open upper reaches. After negotiating a series of quick switchbacks near the summit, turn around for a southern view of Cerro San Luis Obispo flanked by Laguna Lake and the western outskirts of town. Continuing on, climb a short stretch of stairs before reaching Bishop’s boulder-crowned peak. From the 1,560-foot summit, notch aerial views of Morro Bay and Morro Rock to the west, San Luis Obispo and Cuesta Grade to the east, and Laguna Lake to the south. Retrace the route you hiked in on to return to the trailhead. 

-Mapped by Travis Lesicka

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.6

Waypoints

BPK001

Location: 35.301156, -120.68917

Parking is available next to the trailhead off Highland Drive.

BPK002

Location: 35.301502, -120.690029

Head west into the trees for one of the hike's several shady stretches.

BPK003

Location: 35.303344, -120.691096

Bear left at Y-junction to connect to the Bishop Peak Trail. Right fork leads to lower trailhead at Patricia Drive.

BPK004

Location: 35.302286, -120.694052

Pass cliffs popular among top-ropers near mile 0.5.

BPK005

Location: 35.301173, -120.693379

Poison Oak lines the trail: proceed with caution.

BPK006

Location: 35.299162, -120.694429

Bear right to stay on the main trail. The left fork leads to an alternate trailhead at Foothill Boulevard.

Approaching Bishop

Location: 35.303249, -120.691842

Bishop Peak, seen from mile 0.3 of the trail.

Gigantic Oak

Location: 35.302656, -120.69078

Duck under the sprawling branches of a massive tree to break out of a brief stretch of forest.

Hallway Of Green

Location: 35.300859, -120.692829

Duck through a final stretch of woods before reaching the summit.

Cerro San Luis Obispo

Location: 35.300986, -120.697346

As you near the top of Bishop, look south for a view of Cerro San Luis Obispo. Laguna Lake and southwest San Luis Obispo are visible in the background.

Stairs

Location: 35.301638, -120.698011

Climb a quick series of stairs before reaching the peak.

Rocks

Location: 35.301967, -120.696917

Bishop Peak is adorned with a crown of scattered boulders.

Bishop Peak

Location: 35.302036, -120.69648

Reach the top of Bishop Peak. At 1,560 feet, it's the tallest of the Nine Sisters, a chain of volcanic peaks around the area.