As a native of this particular part of California’s Central Coast, there’s some reluctance to share its natural splendor with the outside world, but then the intense pride of place kicks in, and share, share I must. No offense Montana, but San Luis Obispo County truly is the Last, Best Place.

This short film partly shows why. Montaña de Oro State Park is a small wonderland bordering the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to the south, and the massive estuary of Morro Bay to the north. It’s a Disneyland of stunning hiking trails, golden-sand beaches, rocky tidepools, terrific surf (the challenge of which keeps crowds low), world-class fishing, and some serious single track mountain bike possibilities.

The Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers helped put this video together, a group that’s worked to maintain access to trails in the area since 1989. Part of that includes keeping a peaceful trail coexistence with hikers, runners, and equestrian trail users, which they’ve addressed by building bell boxes at trailheads full of little loaner bells for mtb’ers to velcro onto their rigs to limit unexpected trail encounters. The group also took it upon themselves to tackle trail maintenance and just generally make themselves pleasant parts of the Montaña de Oro community.

Anyway, back to the video. You get a little taste of the magic of this part of the country. It’s as close to Middle Earth as you’ll get in California. I’ll always treasure parking my battered Toyota truck beneath towering eucalyptus trees, dragging a grimy, cold wetsuit from the bed, and picking my way down slick trails to surf sketchy reefbreaks, barking sea lions the only audience, then hiking to a nearby peak for a cold beer at sunset. Probably waved high to members of the CCCMB, everybody just stoked to be in such a wonderful place.

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