Carrizo Plain National Monument: Caliente Ridge via Caliente Mountain Trail

Explore "California's Serengeti" on this 14-mile out-and-back to a 4,404-foot summit high above Carrizo Plain National Monument

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-Mapped by Chuck Graham


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 22.4



Location: 35.128258, -119.841394

From Selby Campground, head northeast to Selby Rock and the Caliente Ridge.


Location: 35.133457, -119.840358

Turn right at the T-junction and hike west past an abandoned barn. Look northeast for views of sandstone pinnacles, a haven for nesting birds. Rock outcroppings like these are sparsely scattered on the plain.


Location: 35.135686, -119.846023

This lookout offers 360-degree views of the Carrizo Plains, Soda Lake, and the Temblor Mountains.


Location: 35.123779, -119.857482

Bear left at the Y-junction and continue south on the ridge; dense chaparral flank the trail.


Location: 35.107964, -119.852021

Turn left at the T-junction past the locked gate. Views of Los Padres National Forest extend to the south. Ahead, the route continues east along the Caliente Ridge.


Location: 35.088345, -119.813139

This 4,404-foot summit along Caliente Ridge features sweeping views of the entire national monument. Retrace your steps back to Selby Campground. Optional: To summit 5,104-foot Caliente Mountain, the highest peak in San Luis Obispo County, continue southeast for another 5.4 miles.

Views from Caliente Ridge

Location: 35.108078, -119.851656

Views of Los Padres National Forest are revealed on the south side of the ridge.

Selby Rocks

Location: 35.13351, -119.840004

Carrizo Plains

Location: 35.135686, -119.845626

This lookout offers views of Painted Rock, Soda Lake, and the northern half of the Carrizo Plain.

Summit Views

Location: 35.088345, -119.81256

The summit of Caliente Ridge is the highest point in San Luis Obispo County. It offers views of the entire national monument