In western San Luis Obispo County, there is a really cool series of volcanic plugs known as the Nine Sisters. These majestic formations came into being about twenty million years ago (or, if you’re really religious, over 5,000 years ago). The most famous of these plugs is probably Morro Rock, which is located just off-shore in Morro Bay. Morro Rock has been protected as the Morro Rock State Preserve, and is thus unclimbable. Fortunately, the tallest of the Nine Sisters is still open to the public; Bishop Peak reaches an elevation of 1,559 feet, and takes almost four and a half miles of hiking to get up and down.
The hike begins at the Patricia Drive Trailhead, which is located in the midst of a residential neighborhood.
The start of the trail is innocuous enough, with a slight uphill grade.
Keep an eye out for the signage as you go up — we actually tried this hike on a previous trip out west and lost at least an hour to wrong turns.
Here is one such post didn’t exist on our last trip (forcing one of our above mentioned wrong turns) — but that saved us a major headache this year!
Incidentally, we recommend doing this hike early in the day; if you do it in the afternoon sun, much like the fellow on Fox’s shirt, Bishop Peak will tear your soul apart.
Once you reach the base of Bishop Peak proper, things start to get a little more serious.
Even as the climb gets steeper and more strenuous, though, the scenery remains quite stunning.
The views outward are even more incredible!
As you continue to climb, the terrain does get pretty rocky (which makes sense, seeing as this is, you know, a giant freaking rock) — but make sure you’ve got the right footwear.
At times, it might be tricky to discern whether a particular path is actually part of the trail. The trick is this: asking yourself — does this point up? Then you probably need to follow it.
After a series of switchbacks, you’ll finally reach the peak of Bishop Peak. At which point it’s time to do a celebratory photo shoot.
Or you can just catch a breeze and sweat peacefully.
…Or you can recreate the opening scene of The Lion King. (Just us?)
From the top of this plug, you’re overlooking pretty much everything else in the area — including some other Sisters of the Nine. Puny Sisters!
If you’re feeling frisky, you can climb onto an outcropping and sit for a photo — but seriously, be extremely choosy about where you do this. Folks have died here; Bishop Peak is no joke.
We set up the tripod and posed for a nice couple’s photo — except the photo ended up featuring me, Fox, and Fox’s guns. (For real, wife, don’t beat me up.)
What kind of Pittsburghers would we be if we didn’t fly our flag?
Once you reach the peak, of course, you’re still only half done. You have a couple miles of descent in store, and while it’s less strenuous, you still should save a little in the tank for it.