Cerro Alto is the name of both the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campground and the hike to one of the highest spots in San Luis Obispo County. This lovely, wooded campground is on Highway 41, in a shaded canyon, seven miles from Morro Bay. It is a place I have camped often when visiting the area. It has twenty-two sites, pit toilets and water. It is also scenic, green and quiet.
The campground is at 1,000 feet, and Cerro Also Peak is 2,624 feet, a 1,600-foot climb, quite strenuous in places. There are two ways to get to the top. The longer and less steep departs next to campsite 19, and the shorter, steeper trail starts just past site 16, where it first crosses the creek on a wooden bridge. The main trail at site 19 is signed “Cerro Alto Trail 12E01.”
We took the longer trail up, the shorter one down, saving .7 miles. It was 2.75 up and just over 2 miles back down.
After waking up at site 18, having breakfast and cleaning up, we started up the trail. In retrospect, I would have gotten ready a bit quicker, as it was getting pretty warm as we approached the peak. However, the first three quarters to one mile offered a gradual assent, mostly in the shade and along the side of a creek for a time. We paused to enjoy a small waterfall along the trail. Then it started to climb a bit steeply, and the shade became occasional places where we looked forward to stopping to relax.
At nearly a mile in we could see the tops of the peaks, the very ancient volcanic plugs that