Paso Robles is a city we keep returning to year after year. No wonder too, as this place combines small-town charm with exceptional scenery, geological wonders like hot springs, alongside the olive groves and vineyards that have put this region on the map.
We’ll let you into a secret as well – Paso Robles is a great hiking destination too.
There are several fantastic Paso Robles hiking trails that you have to try, which will allow you to see and enjoy this region in its fullest. Below we share some of our favourite trails for hiking in Paso Robles – each one has something that makes it special, be that stunning views, vineyard walks, or the chance to spot birdlife.
So grab your hiking boots and a friend – it’s time to begin your Paso Robles hiking adventure!
Paso Robles hiking: Trails you have to try
Cerro Alto Trail
This trail starts just a few miles outside of Paso Robles and will take you to the 2,624-foot summit of Cerro Alto – one of the highest peaks in San Luis Obispo County. From the top you will have spectacular views across the county out towards peaks, valleys, and California’s rugged coastline. Well worth the 3-5 hours it can take to trek up to the summit and back.
There are two routes up the mountain, one is shorter and steeper, while the other follows a more gradual ascent and is longer. You can combine both routes if you like, for example climbing up the gradual longer route, but going down using the steeper route. That combination would be around 6 miles in length and is our preferred combination.
The trailhead for both begins at Cerro Alto Campground. There’s a 10 USD fee to enter the area and do the hike, but in our opinion it’s worth the money.
You will need a moderate level of fitness for this hike as it can be challenging in places, there’s also limited shade so make sure you have adequate protection from the sun. You can see a detailed description of this hike, photos of the different stages, and directions to the trailhead here.
This is probably our favorite Paso Robles hiking trail.
The Wine Trail
This trail takes you down Vineyard Drive – a little road on the outskirts of Paso Robles – past the vineyards of five wineries: Paix Sur Terre, Jada Vineyard, Opolo Vineyards, Brecon Estate, and Thacher Winery.
In total this trail is around 5.5 miles one way and should take 1.5-2 hours to walk. It’s easy going as you’re following a paved road, but what makes this trail special is you can visit some of the wineries – and try their produce – on the way! That will easily add around two hours to your walk, so this whole trail is a half day activity.
We recommend starting at Paix Sur Terre and walking northwards, finishing at Thacher Winery. These wineries have tasting rooms and some do tours. For example, Opolo does tours and cheese tastings, while the wines on sale at the tasting rooms at Brecon Estate are exclusive and aren’t sold anywhere else.
All of that makes this is a fun trail for wine aficionados, but be careful because vehicles frequently use the road.
Barney Schwartz Park Trail
This short one mile loop trail takes you through Barney Schwartz Park – a 40 acre park that’s covered with oak trees and has a lake where many ducks and geese like to hang out.
The pleasant trail starts at the park entrance and takes you around the park, and is a great short walk if you’ve only an hour to spare. You can find the trailhead at the entrance, which is at 2970 Union Rd, Paso Robles.
Jim Green Trail
This 1.6 mile loop trail follows the Salinas River and meanders through areas with wild flowers. It’s similar to the San Juan Trail that runs close by, however that path is popular with bikes, whereas this one is better for walkers.
in our opinion this is probably the nicest short hike in Paso Robles. You will be walking amongst trees, and will have a lovely view of Chalk Mountain on the way. There’s some steeper parts that will give you a decent workout, but nothing too difficult.
Keep an eye out for birdlife on your way too, especially woodpeckers who love to hang out in the trees during the early morning
All in all a very nice hike, with some challenging parts. You can see a map of the trail, and where the trailhead starts, here.
Lake Nacimiento Shoreline Trail
On this five mile trail surrounded by oak and pine trees you’ll follow the shoreline of the pretty Lake Nacimiento, which sits just outside of Paso Robles.
The downside is there is a fee to pay to do the trail as it exists on land that is owned by a campground. That fee is a hefty 15 USD, but you’ll have access to the trail and surrounding area until the evening.
However despite the fee, there’s a couple of reasons we like this trail. The first is that there’s lots of little paths going off the main trail, and that gives you an opportunity to explore the area and lake a bit more – some of these lead to lovely secluded places on the shoreline that are perfect for a swim or picnic.
The second, is there’s plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities here with the possibility to see deer, hawks, other birdlife and more. For nature lovers like us, that’s a big bonus.
We found this to be a tranquil place, and the hike itself to be mostly easy with a few challenging aspects. You can see a map of the trail here.
Rambouillet Snead Trail
This out and back trail is just over two miles in length, but it’s a lovely little trail to do if you only have an hour to spare. The walk will see you follow a small creek through areas made up of oak trees, and during spring there are many wild flowers.
The hike itself is accessible for all abilities, and the trail is easy to follow, although you will have to cross the shallow creek in a couple of places. The trailhead begins at the end of Snead Street. You can see a map of the full trail here.