Bishop’s Peak

Bishop’s Peak is an iconic San Luis Obispo hike. The mountain is one of the nine sisters in San Luis Obispo County, Cerro San Luis (Mount Madonna) being another hike I previously wrote about doing sunrise yoga on with Poly Escapes last year.

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Flashbackkkkk

Bishop’s Peak has a special place in my heart, because it’s the first hike I did (or attempted to do, other than the P) when I got to SLO my freshman year at Cal Poly. It was the second weekend of school, and I went with my new close friends Conner and Kyle. The only problem is that we had no idea where the trailhead was.

We walked from the Cal Poly dorm Santa Lucia to the highland trailhead in 95 degree weather and proceeded to hike where we thought the trail went (we were very wrong), taking a most likely illegal detour up the complete other side of the mountain. But we did make it to the top. Summiting Bishop’s by climbing up sheetrock and pushing through spiky bushes as Kyle’s spotify blasted “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” is one of the best experiences I’ve had in college so far…

 

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When you finally make it to the top

Anyway, this post is so that you don’t make that same mistake, are informed about the hike beforehand, and take the actual trailhead so that it doesn’t take you seven hours like it took us.

Bishop’s peak is the tallest of the seven sisters, getting its name after its shape, resembling a bishop’s miter. The trail leads to a 1,500+ foot summit with a 950 foot elevation change and about a 3.5 mile distance round trip from the trailhead at Highland Drive.

Climbers also enjoy Bishop’s, because there are many rocks which have hooks to belay off of, at the base and at the summit. Here is a map of the rocks for climbing, via Mountainproject.com. On their website there are also difficulty ratings and climbing season recommendations. 

 

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A map of places to climb on Bishop’s

 

The hike is moderately strenuous. It starts off in the woods at the base of the mountain where there is some shade, but the majority of the hike is in the open sun, so bring sunblock if you’re pale like me and get burned every time you’re outside. The trail winds up the backside of the mountain and is steep, using many zig zaggy switchbacks.

Be prepared to climb over clusters of smaller rocks as part of the trail (But that doesn’t mean you need to bring your climbing shoes like Kyle did that first time…). Be aware of your surroundings as well, because there are steep drops off the side of the trail.

When you reach the top, there will be a bench that says “end of trail.” Only it’s not really the end of the hike if you’re looking to summit. When you reach the bench, walk toward the rocks on the right, and climb them at your own risk to the true top to get panoramic views of San Luis Obispo’s fields, landmarks, and a full look at the Cal Poly campus.

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Ian photobombed the panoramic featuring Cerro San Luis (on the left of his head).

Trailhead address: 1 Highland Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Trailhead coordinates: 35.301153, -120.68916 (35° 18′ 04.15″N 120° 41′ 20.97″W)

Below is an interactive map to the Highland trailhead.

Happy hiking! #AintNoMountainHighEnough

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Bishop’s Peak

Gear to Bring on your Next Adventure

When you’re going on a hike, camping trip, or any other kind of adventure, there are certain items you should bring to make your expereince the best it can be.

I asked three people what they recommend when going on adventures. Ben Parsons, Kiana Streeter, and Taryn Davis all gave their personal opinions of what to bring when you’re going out on a trip.

Places you can get this gear include your local camping supply stores, or if you’re a SLO resident or student of Cal Poly, you can rent equipment from “Frontline,” Cal Poly’s adventure equipment rental center located next to the REC center.

Check out this video for more information about gear as well as how to rent it on the Cal Poly campus!

hiking

When you’re headed out on a day hike, it’s important to bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated, especially depending on what kind of weather it is. Check the weather forcasts in advance so that you don’t get stuck in a rainstorm, or at the top of a peak in 41 mile per hour winds (unless you like that kind of thing, sometime’s it’s fun…).

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Bring a day pack filled with extra sunblock, some minor first aid supplies, and a sweatshirt in case there is a drastic  change in temperature as you ascend, compared to at the bottom of the trail. It’s always a good idea to bring a healthy snack as mentioned in my previous post, and to wear comfortable shoes so that you don’t get any blisters.

“You need hiking boots for sure, just because they have a very stiff rubber and a stiff construction to them so your ankles don’t get banged up and you don’t get as many blisters.” Said Ben Parsons, an employee of Cal Poly’s outdoor climbing wall, and a hiking and climbing enthusiast. If you don’t have hiking boots, don’t stress, because a good pair of sneakers will also suffice on a hike that isn’t TOO strenuous.

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Essentials of water, a small pack, and sunblock

camping

Depending on how long your trip is and where your destination is located, you’re going to need to pack different items for a camping trip. Essentials include a sleeping bag, a tent, firewood to cook, food, something to cook the food in as well as something to eat the food with, water, sunblock,and again, check the weather to see what else will be necessary wherever you’re going. “We have pretty much everything you need for camping,” says Frontline employee Kiana Streeter. “From stoves to…tents and sleeping bags from whatever you really need you can rent out for a… discounted price for students, too.”

More blankets, a heavy coat, or extra firewood are helpful in cold temperatures. Always make sure it is legal to have a fire going in your campsite beforehand, as there are many places during dry season which prohibit making a fire for safety reasons. You can check the California Department of Parks and recreation’s website, or call your campsite’s ranger station beforehand to double check as well as so check if you will need a fire permit. You can also check out REI’s basic Camping checklist for more camping suggestions.

Finally,

backpacking

There are different kinds of backpacking, like lightweight backpacking, and regular backpacking, but for the most part you are going to want to bring the same supplies with you, they’re just going to be packed differently. You’re going to need a backpack which can hold your sleeping bag, a sleeping mat which will insulate you from having the cold of the ground suck up your body heat when you’re sleeping as well as to provide some cushion. It is especially important to bring high calorie and nutritious food when you’re backpacking, because you need the energy. According to equipped.outdoors.org, the average person will burn from 4,000-5,000 calories or more each day backpacking, so this is not a situation you’re gonna want to go with the low calorie food option! ”

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Sleeping Pads available for rent at Frontline.

You’ll need food, a headlamp if you’re going to be making night treks, first aid supplies, and some kind of a navigation tool like a compass and map. Check out REI’s Backpacking Checklist for even more information on what to bring on a backpacking trip.

Gear to Bring on your Next Adventure

Camping and Adventuring Preview

Check out this video preview for my next big blog coming on March 11th featuring interviews from adventuring experts such as third year climbing wall employee Ben Parsons, on the kind of gear you should bring when you go on a camping, climbing, or backpacking trip. If you have any tips or suggestions for the post, let me know and I will incorperate it into my writing.

We will explore the kinds of clothing, shoes, and other necessary items to bring on a trip as well has how to pack it quickly and for maximum efficiency.

There are many more tips and tricks which will help you create the best possible experience on your adventure in the upcoming video. Check it out!

Camping and Adventuring Preview