A few weeks back I brought a bottle of Bishop’s Peak Elevation with me to a relative’s house up in San Francisco. I knew that the wine would be well received, but what I wasn’t expecting was how it would spark our topic of conversation for the next 45 minutes. As the bottle was passed and poured, everyone was genuinely intrigued, not so much about what was going into their glass, but rather about what exactly was on the label itself—Bishop’s Peak. I’m not going to lie, at first I was a bit surprised that no one knew what Bishop’s Peak was. Sure it’s not Mount Whitney, Muir Woods, or any other major hiking destination in California, but for the County of San Luis Obispo, Bishop’s Peak is kind of a big deal.
Bishop’s Peak is iconic of SLO; a climb to the top is every newcomer’s rite of passage. Like many, I was introduced to the mountain back when I first moved into town as a freshman at Cal Poly. I quickly learned why Bishop’s Peak is such an integral part of the community. On any given day, you can expect to find the avid hiker, leisurely sightseer, or thrill-seeking rock climber. This is one of the things that I love most about Bishop’s Peak—the fact that it is enjoyed by so many people with varying agendas. And, not to forget, the hike is also thoroughly enjoyed by happy dogs everywhere.
At 1,546 feet, Bishop’s Peak is the tallest of the Nine Sisters. The Nine Sisters are a series of volcanic peaks that stretch throughout San Luis Obispo County. Not all can be hiked, but of the ones that can, Bishop’s Peak is definitely #1. The hike to the top is a noteworthy two mile stretch. Taking the Highland Drive entrance, the trail begins in a tranquil wooded grove and eventually winds up through a series of scenic switchbacks. The sun can be a bit intense towards the end, so bringing a hat and plenty of water is definitely a must. Once at the top, there are two benches and plenty of rocks that offer a place to catch a breath and absorb the stunning 360-degree view of San Luis Obispo County. This is where hikers can fully revel in the beauty that all of San Luis Obispo has to offer. To the East are expansive views of the Cal Poly campus, downtown San Luis Obispo, and Sister Mountain, Cerro San Luis. To the West are epic views of Morro Bay, Montaña de Oro, the Pacific Ocean, and beyond. Because there is so much to take in, it is common for people to spend more time hanging out at the top of the mountain than on the hike itself.
So the next time you’re in town, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend a trip to the top of Bishop’s Peak. Hikers will be rewarded with a great workout, excellent views, and yet another excuse to open up a bottle of your favorite Bishop’s Peak wine (once you get home, of course!).