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Morro Bay’s Black Hill is accessible to almost anyone 

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I don't know how your knees are doing, but now that I'm in my 60s, mine have mostly been mocking me and threatening to fold up like cheap card tables if I ask too much of them. Yet, I still like to get my walks in, and I also like those walks to offer some spectacular views. If you're looking for a short and not too taxing hike that will reward you with sweeping views of the coast from Los Osos, the back bay, the estuary, Morro Bay harbor, Morro Rock, and right up to Cayucos, Black Hill in Morro Bay State Park is the hike for you.

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It's easy to get to. Drive into the state park like you're heading to the Morro Bay Golf Course. Not far from the clubhouse, you'll see a service road heading northeast with a gate that says, "Closed from 6 p.m. until 7 a.m." Take the road and it will deposit you in a little parking lot at the base of Black Hill. You'll see the trailhead and a wooden kiosk with signage reminding you to leash your dog, avoid poison oak, and follow Roger Racoon's visitor tips.

Head up the trail, which travels through what's called Fleming's Forest, a bunch of Monterey pines planted by former Park Superintendent John Fleming. There are a few switchbacks, but I'm not going to lie: There are some steep sections that might have you huffing and puffing. Take a rest. There's no shame in catching your breath.

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All told, the roundtrip trail is only .6 miles, and your elevation gain is a mere 190 feet. Black Hill—the second to last of the nine Morros that stretch from Islay Hill in San Luis Obispo down Highway I to Morro Rock­—is 661 feet tall, a bit taller than Morro Rock's 578-foot volcanic plug. Depending on your fitness level, the whole hike only takes about 15 minutes, but slow down, Turbo, because once you get to the top, you're going to want to linger. It's beautiful up there.

Aside from the coast, there are beautiful views of the golf course as well as down the valley toward San Luis Obispo. Outcroppings of volcanic pillow rock offer spots to take in the vistas. Feeling ambitious? Other trails farther down Black Hill can lengthen your hike, so go get 'em, Tiger.


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