Posted on April 25, 2013

San Luis Obispo County: Celebrating 20 Years of the Pecho Coast Trail

By John Lindsey

AVILA BEACH — Due to private ownership, the rugged and strikingly beautiful land that is home to the Pecho Coast Trail had not been accessible to the public since the Spanish Mission Period.

The Pecho Coast Trail takes hikers to the Point San Luis Lighthouse. (Photos by John Lindsey.)

However, 20 years ago, PG&E opened the Pecho Coast Trail to the public. Since the opening of this trail to the Point San Luis Lighthouse, PG&E docents have led more than 3,000 hikes with more than 50,000 participants.

In other words, it has been a huge success.

A celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Pecho Coast Trail will take place on Sunday (April 28) with the docents and partners honoring those volunteers who have made this hiking program so successful.

“Our docents spend many hours learning about the natural and cultural history of our coastline and are very passionate about sharing their knowledge with the hikers.  This program would not exist without them.” said Sally Krenn, a PG&E terrestrial biologist.

Spectacular views and wildflower displays.

Docents lead hikers along the trail with views that rival anything found along the Big Sur Coast. These knowledgeable volunteers talk about the trail’s botany and the history of the Port San Luis Harbor and the development of its shipping industry. To maintain a safe port, the Point San Luis Lighthouse and breakwater were constructed in 1890.

The Pecho Coast Trail is open to hikers with reservations on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The Point San Luis Lighthouse throws a beam of light more than 17 miles out to sea that guides ships along the treacherous coast. The Lighthouse and many other sites of historic interest are visible from the trail. (Click here to read a Currents story on volunteers who keep the Lighthouse going as one of the jewels of the Central Coast.)

The trail to the Point San Luis Lighthouse is open to 20 hikers on Wednesdays and 40 hikers on Saturdays. The docent-led hikes start at 9 a.m. and end at 1 p.m.

The hike to the Point San Luis Lighthouse is 3.75 miles roundtrip and moderately strenuous with uneven terrain, steep cliffs and grades, narrow paths, and crumbling earth. Sturdy hiking shoes are required and hikers must be 9 years or older.

From the Lighthouse, visitors can extend their hike to Rattlesnake Canyon. That is an eight-mile round trip from the Point San Luis trailhead.

Reservations must be made two weeks in advance of the hike. For information regarding the eight-mile roundtrip hike to Rattlesnake Canyon and for information regarding special group hikes, please call 541-TREK or log into this website.

For a trolley or kayak tour or to arrange a special event at the Light Station visit You also can call (805) 540 5771.

Small fee to tour Lighthouse

At the Lighthouse, an admission fee of $5 per adult is required to take the Lighthouse keeper’s quarter’s tour. The balance of the site and buildings can be visited at no charge. Children under 12 are free. This fee supports the work of the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers, who restore, maintain and operate the visitor services at this historic site.

Last year, Currents wrote about many of the PGE places, including lakes and trails, that offer recreational opportunities. Click here to read those stories.

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