PISMO BEACH, Calif. - It's a hike that takes your breath away before you break a sweat. There are 11 miles of trails in the Pismo Preserve, but you only need to go a few hundred yards to see what makes it unique. Panoramic ocean views abound across the 880 acres of protected open space.
"It's amazing," Jedd Hasay said while out hiking on a warm Saturday afternoon.
"It's awesome," Ally Hasay quickly agreed.
The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County purchased the land in 2014 and opened it in January of 2020 at a cost of about 17 million dollars.
"It's a really important place because South County - South San Luis Obispo County - doesn't have a lot of open space areas for hiking or trail running or mountain biking," Pismo Preserve Outreach Manager Jamie Creath said.
The trails are open to hikers, runners, horse back riders and bicyclists seven days a week from from dawn to dusk. Creath says an average of two to seven hundred people use them daily.
"It's really pretty," Savannah Frazier said about a half mile up her first hike in the Preserve. She drove out from Lompoc with her mom to enjoy an afternoon hike.
"Due to COVID there's like not really much to do. So I just want to like be outside," Frazier said. "Kind of like away from crowds and stuff like that. So usually I go hiking when it's nice like nowadays."
The trails almost became too popular during COVID-19 lockdowns.
"It has been challenging," Creath said of managing the facilities during spikes in coronavirus cases.
The Preserve never closed for long, but there were days when keeping everyone safe did mean keeping people off the trails.
"Unfortunately we did have to do some adaptive management with closing on the weekend for some time when COVID cases were really high," Creath said. "We don't foresee that happening again hopefully, knock on wood."
Trails are all marked one way to help people keep their distance from one another. For those who live close by, it's an 880-acre gem of a backyard.
"Just both growing up here, you always look up here thinking of, I want to get up here one day," Jedd Hasay said. "For them to be able to do this is incredible."
The trailhead is easy to access right off the 101 freeway at Maddie Road. There is a paved parking lot and restrooms.
"It feels really good to be open," Creath said. "Seeing the wildflowers and people coming out with their pets and their kids, it's really special."
The SLO Land Conservancy is a non-profit that relies on grants and donations to purchase and manage open spaces like the Pismo Preserve. For more information click here.