Climbing & Hiking Trails - 11 min read

10 Best Hikes Near Paso Robles (Birds & Flowers)

Alaina Johnson

Alaina Johnson, Updated November 8, 2022

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Paso Robles is home to world-class wineries and several renowned olive groves. Tourists often flock towards the rejuvenating mineral hot springs, as they’re thought to have natural healing powers. This Californian city has plenty to offer in terms of museums, entertainment, and restaurants. For those looking for outdoor adventure, the city has plenty to offer.

Whether you’re just passing through Paso Robles or you’ve lived there for years, there are quite a few hiking trail options nearby. You’ll find a variety of native wildlife, as well as stunning views of the coastline and nearby mountain peaks. Most of the trails don’t have a lot of elevation gain, making them suitable for hikers of all ages.

Located in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles makes for a great layover between the two busy cities. Visitors will find a sense of relaxation and solitude, along with the opportunity to explore a quiet area of California that’s mostly populated with retirees.

1. Centennial Trail

Credit: Frank Kehl / Flickr

Centennial Trail is an out-and-back path in Paso Robles and it provides a quick workout for hikers and trail runners. You may come across a few cyclists as well.

The majority of the trail is paved and wide, making it the perfect multi-use route. Centennial Park has public restrooms, picnic tables, and even a swimming pool for visitors to use.

The trail is lined by beautiful large oak trees, providing a home for many of the wildlife creatures. You’re likely to come across a variety of bird species, as well as curious squirrels.

Hikers are welcome to bring their dogs along, though they must stay leashed. The trail is also family-friendly and is a great option for those with small children due to the short length.

There are no sections of intense elevation gain, making the path manageable for both wheelchair users and parents bringing along a stroller. There is a stream that is often flowing with water during the wet months, making for a relaxing ambient sound.

Despite the relatively flat terrain, there are exercise stations along the trail. Hikers can add these in to ensure a full-body workout.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 85 Feet

2. Montebello Oaks Open Space Trail

Credit: happy camper / AllTrails

This out-and-back trail is ideal for hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners. However, it’s lightly traversed so you may not run into anyone else while on your hike.

There are many squirrels in the area that you’ll likely be sharing the path with, as well as other small wild creatures. You’ll have the option to add mileage to your hike by taking any number of the smaller trails.

If you enjoy hiking with your dog, this trail is pet-friendly. While you may want to bring a leash along in case there are other people, you can allow them to be off-leash in certain areas.

There are many beautiful oak trees along the trail, proving plenty of shade cover to hikers on especially sunny days. Be aware, that some areas may be washed out after heavy rainfall.

Overall, this is a great trail if you’re looking to take a relaxing hike in nature. You’ll hear birds chirping and you’re sure to come across a quiet spot to sit and relax and enjoy the views.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 272 Feet

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3. Salinas River Walk

Credit: Frank Kehl / Flickr

The Salinas River Walk is open year-round and it’s a popular pathway for hikers to enjoy during the evening or morning hours. Dogs are allowed as well but must be kept on a leash due to the, at times, highly trafficked area.

During the springtime, hikers can enjoy the wildflowers that decorate the path. There is also a good deal of shade cover, making this a great option for a hike on a hot day.

During the summer, the riverbed may be dry. It’s best to look at current reviews before you head out to get an up-to-date status on the river.

There are several benches available along the route for taking breaks. This trail is family-friendly, so young kids are often found enjoying the path with their families.

For both the residents of Paso Robles and the visitors to this city, this path makes for a great way to explore nature and breath in the fresh air. Some sections of the trail are paved, making it accessible for wheelchair users.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 85 Feet

4. Lake Nacimiento Shoreline Trail

Credit: samalvis / Flickr

This shoreline loop trail is a bit of a challenging hike, which many hikers appreciate. There are birding opportunities as well, so bring a pair of binoculars if you want to spot a few of the native species.

There is a $15 fee for a day pass, which is good until 9 pm that day. If you want to get your money’s worth, it’s recommended that you head out early so you have plenty of time to explore.

The trail has stunning views of Lake Nacimiento and various spots where hikers can sit, have a snack, and take a break before continuing. Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat are strongly encouraged, as it can get very hot and there isn’t always shade cover.

You may spot hawks, deer, squirrels, and various other forms of wildlife that call this area home. For the best viewing opportunities, try hiking in the early morning hours or near dusk.

If the nearly 5-mile hike isn’t quite enough for you, you can add on any of the offshoot trails. They can be used either as a shortcut or a way to boost your overall mileage for the day.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 725 Feet

Related Read: 18 Best Hiking Trails in San Jose, CA 

5. Oak Woodland Loop Trail

Credit: Kelly Carpenter / AllTrails

The Oak Woodland Loop Trail is located a short distance from Paso Robles and is within the Three Bridges Oak Preserve. You may find other hikers, birders, and even horseback riders enjoying the route as well.

There is a relatively steady incline, so it doesn’t get overly difficult in any single section. The path surface is mainly rock and dirt, so hiking shoes are recommended.

For curious minds, there are various educational descriptors along the path. This provides the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife, vegetation, and history of the area.

Beginners who are looking to get their feet wet on a moderate trail enjoy using this path as a stepping stone. It’s usually not too crowded but there are enough people around in case an emergency arises.

The views from the top offer a great reward. You can congratulate yourself for making it this far and you’ll be able to enjoy the much easier downhill path.

One thing to note is that there are no trashcans, so hikers will need to pack out everything that they brought in. This includes single-use water bottles and any snack packages.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 669 Feet

6. Pine Mountain Loop

Credit: Veronica Russell / AllTrails

Pine Mountain Loop is a shorter hiking trail, often clocking in at under an hour for most hikers. There are decent sections of elevation gain, so you can still get a brisk workout in if you keep your pace up.

This trail is mainly used by pedestrians, including trail runners as well. The area is dog-friendly, though they’re encouraged to be kept on a leash at all times.

At one point in the route, the trail will split. You have a decision to either go to the left, which is the steeper section or stay to the right. Depending on your experience, you may want to veer right and avoid the challenging segment.

The trail is mostly left uncovered, so you’ll want to pack accordingly. The sun can be incredibly hot and may beat down on you depending on when you attempt this hike.

If you’re heading out in the morning or near the evening, the hike will be a bit cooler and could even be managed by younger kids. There are many examples of native plant vegetation along the path, which is a great educational opportunity.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 442 Feet

7. Atascadero Lake Park

Credit: Ted Fletcher / Flickr

This short lake hike is perfect for the whole family. Young kids will love the playground at the north end of the park. Dogs are welcome to join on the trail, as long as they remain leashed.

The best time to visit is from April to October, as the weather will be consistently pleasant and dry. There are several spots for a picnic, as well as multiple benches for quick resting breaks.

Atascadero Lake Park is popular with birders, hikers, as well as paddle sports enthusiasts. You’re likely to come across several instances of outdoor recreation while you’re enjoying the trail.

There are designated spots in the paved parking lot for accessibility. Wheelchair users can manage this trail, with perhaps a bit of help or all-terrain tires.

As you’re enjoying your hike, look out for deer and other small mammals. You’re likely to see several species of birds, as they congregate in the area.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 26 Feet

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8. Boyscout and Bridge Loop

Credit: James Weston / Flickr

This loop trail is expected to take most hikers between 2.5-3 hours to complete. If you get an early start, you can be finished up by early afternoon and beat the heat of the day.

The trail is popular with campers and trail runners, so you may run into a few friendly faces along the way. If you’re in search of stunning views of the coast, this loop will provide them on a clear day.

The path can get steep at times, so sturdy hiking footwear is recommended. You’ll want to ensure your ankles have enough support to manage the inclines and the few rocky sections that exist along the trail.

Reviews mention a few areas of poison oak, so hikers should familiarize themselves with what this looks like to avoid it. Pack plenty of water and download a map before you head out to ensure you don’t get turned around.

There is a small parking fee of $10 to access this trail. For the cost, you’ll get a solid workout in and you can even pack a picnic to enjoy after your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,154 Feet

9. Jim Green Trail

Credit: Sabrina Brenneise / AllTrails

The Jim Green Trail is located in Heilmann Regional Park. This route is a loop and it’s popular with hikers, as well as birders and horseback riders.

Due to the possibility of encountering an equestrian animal, it’s encouraged that dogs stay leashed. Other than that, the trail is perfectly dog-friendly and you can enjoy a hike with your pup.

The path is open year-round and there are beautiful sights to discover during any season. On a clear day, Chalk Mountain may be visible and makes for a great photo.

There are a few inclines but they don’t get too steep. Many beginners will be able to manage the entirety of the trail with no problem.

On hot days, hikers will appreciate the shade provided by the moss trees. Many mature and tall oak trees line the path, providing further shade cover.

For hikers interested in practicing their birding, there are often sightings of hawks and woodpeckers in the area. Though, you should be able to hear the woodpeckers before you visualize them.

Overall, the trail is well-maintained and it would be difficult to get lost along the way. Several side trails break off from the main one, allowing hikers to add to their mileage if they want a more challenging hike.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 167 Feet

10. Rocky Canyon Trail

Credit: Road King13 / AllTrails

Rocky Canyon Trail is an out-and-back route that is often used by birders, mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers. You may even spot a dirt bike or two along the path, so keep an eye out as they often come around the corners quickly.

Apart from human recreational enthusiasts, you may also find plenty of pups along the path. The trail is dog-friendly but they should be kept on a leash.

Hikers are sure to work up a sweat along this nearly 8-mile-long trail. There are some segments of elevation, which adds another level to this workout.

The trail isn’t very technical, so it could be managed by a moderately experienced beginner looking to test their endurance. Some sections are quite rocky, so proper footwear is strongly encouraged.

The route is well-marked for the most part, but you may want to download a map to your phone. This enables you to check your location if you find yourself turned around.

Whilst hiking, keep an eye and an ear out for wildlife. There have been sightings of roadrunners as well as bobcats, so you’ll want to provide them with plenty of space.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 7.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 813 Feet

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