Pismo Preserve

At 880 acres, the Pismo Preserve offers truly exceptional and diverse recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors will enjoy over 11 miles of trail traversing serene oak woodlands and coastal ridgelines with stunning panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean stretching from the Irish Hills to Point Sal.

Hours

Open Daily
Dawn – Dusk
Trails may close when wet.

80 Mattie Road
Pismo Beach, CA 93446

Directions

The Pismo Preserve is located off exit 191B from US Highway 101 in Pismo Beach. The entrance and parking lot are located on the east side of the freeway at the very southern end of Mattie Road.

Pismo Preserve FAQs

The Land Conservancy has transformed a 900-acre private ranch above Pismo Beach into a public preserve for outdoor recreation and community enjoyment.

Who owns the 900-acre Pismo Preserve?

The Land Conservancy owns and operates the Pismo Preserve. We are a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Where is the entrance to the Preserve located?

The Pismo Preserve is located off exit 191B from US Highway 101 in Pismo Beach. The entrance and parking lot are located on the east side of the freeway at the very southern end of Mattie Road.

What are the hours of operation and is there an entry fee?

The Pismo Preserve is open every day from dawn to dusk, including holidays. Parking lot gates are locked an hour after sunset. If you are locked in, your car will be locked in the parking lot until dawn the following morning.
Entrance to the Preserve is FREE.

Is there a ranger at the Preserve during hours of operation?

Several Land Conservancy staff are present at the Pismo Preserve throughout the week, including weekends, including our stewardship and field managers, and the Pismo Preserve Outreach Associate. Additionally, a team of dedicated volunteers open and close the gates on a daily basis, sweep the parking lot, pick up trash on the trails, and perform weekly trail maintenance tasks. Land Conservancy staff, along with the Pismo Beach Police Department, and SLO County Sheriff’s Department are responsible for enforcing the rules to protect adjacent landowners, the natural resources on site, and people who visit the property.

Are mountain bikes allowed?

Yes. Mountain bikers are required to follow the posted trail rules and signs and wear a bell. We have worked with Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) to identify and establish trails that are designed with mountain bikers in mind. E-bikes are not allowed.

Are dogs allowed?

Yes, dogs must be on leash at all times. Dog owners are required to follow the posted trail rules and signs. Please pick up after your pet.

Are horses allowed?

Yes. Equestrians are required to follow the posted trail rules and signs. We have worked with SLOPOST, Backcountry Horsemen, RideNipomo and other local groups to identify and establish trails that are horse-friendly. A reservation is required. Three horse trailer parking spaces can be reserved at www.lcslo.org/PismoHorseParking. Please refer to the equestrian-focused section of these FAQs for more information.

Are motorized vehicles or E-bikes allowed?

No. The Preserve is open to passive recreation only. LCSLO staff, however, may use trucks or other motorized vehicles to access the property for maintenance and stewardship.

Will special events or gatherings be allowed?

Occasionally. Similar to local public parks, LCSLO will likely allow special events, subject to paying a fee and reserving a site. Email info@lcslo.org or call our office at 805-544-9096 with any inquiries.

Is camping allowed?

No.

Can I hike or ride at night?

No, the Pismo Preserve is closed at night. Only wildlife gets to be on the trails in the dark.

Will the Preserve be closed during rain events?

During significant storm events the Preserve will close to protect the trails, soil, and springs found on the property. During minor storm events, some trails will be closed depending on their slope steepness, soil type, and erodibility. Find updates on Preserve closures on our website, Facebook, and Instagram @pismopreserve.

How many miles of trail are on the Preserve?

There are 11 miles of trail and ranch roads on the property, thanks to hundreds of LCSLO volunteers.

What should I do if I get hurt while hiking or riding at the Pismo Preserve?

If you are seriously injured on the Pismo Preserve, Call 911. There is good cell phone coverage on the majority of the property. Every trail sign on the property has an emergency location number, such as C8-2, that a first responder can use to locate you on the trail system. The fastest way to the parking lot is via the road system.

Are all trails open to Mountain Bikes?

The Vamonos Trail and the Lover’s point spur are Hiking Only Trails. All other trails and roads on the Pismo Preserve are open to mountain bikes. Trails may be intermittently closed due to management activities, weather, or other adverse conditions.

Why do bikers wear bells? Are bells required?

The Bells on Bikes program, started by Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB), alerts other trail users of approaching mountain bikers. Bells allow hikers and equestrians to plan for a bike approaching on the trail, look for a safe spot to pass, and engage riders on the best way to safely pass. Most importantly, the bell program promotes an ethic of shared trails that reduces user conflict. All mountain bikers are required to have a bell on their bike.

Is night riding allowed?

No. The parking lot hours are generous to allow users plenty of time to get to the parking lot after sunset and leave before the gates are locked. Please do not ride the trails after sunset with head lamps on as it disturbs the wildlife that call this place home.

What is ‘responsible riding’?

Responsible riding on the Pismo Preserve means Mountain bikers should:

  1. Ride in control, without skidding or sliding on trails.
  2. Slow for intersections, blind corners and sections of trail with reduced lines of sight.
  3. Be courteous to hikers, equestrians, and other riders.
  4. Yield to equestrians and hikers and communicate the best way to safely pass.
  5. Stay on the trail system.
  6. Observe all trail closures.
  7. Be prepared for your ride -bring a repair kit, water and food, and a plan.

What are the best ways to share the trails?

The trails at the Preserve were designed for and by all user groups. The best way to share the trails is to be courteous and kind to all trail users. Ride with a bell, ride in control, and say hello with a smile.

Can I ride when the trails are wet?

The soils are predominately clay on the Pismo Preserve and are very muddy and sticky after a significant rain event. You should NOT ride on the Preserve during or immediately after rain. If you leave an imprint of your tires on the trail, the soils are too wet for riding. Depending on the amount of rain, it may be several days before you can responsibly ride the trails at the Pismo Preserve.

What are the best ways to reduce my impact on the Pismo Preserve?

The Land Conservancy wants to protect the Pismo Preserve’s natural environment and keep our trails in the best condition possible. Riders should stay on the trail system and ride in the center of the trail. Do not ride when trails are wet or muddy. Ride or walk over obstacles, not around them. Do not build illegal trails or new features. Please pack out all trash.

What should I do when I encounter horses on the trails?

Trails on the Pismo Preserve are narrow and often on steep side slopes, so passing an equestrian group may be difficult. Slow down well in advance of horses and alert them of your presence – Horses may be startled by fast approaching riders, and can be unpredictable, creating hazards for both the riders and bikers. Look for a place wide enough for horses to pass you, which may be behind you. Communicate clearly with the equestrians about the safest way to pass and adhere as much as possible to their directions. Hikers and bikers should step to the bottom edge of the trail if it is safe for them to do so.

Where do I park my horse trailer?

Horse trailer parking spaces are by reservation only. There are three parking spots designated for truck and horse trailer rigs located at the Pismo Preserve trailhead. Reservations are free. When you arrive, stay to the right and follow the loop around to the parallel equestrian parking zone, off of the pavement past the restroom. White lines on the parking surface delineate each horse trailer parking spot. Your rig needs to be facing the parking lot entrance. Always pull your rig forward to make it easy for the other trailers to park behind you. Leave plenty of room (at least 15 ft) for horses to be unloaded and loaded into the trailer in front of your truck.

How do I reserve a parking space for my horse trailer?

Reservations can be made at lcslo.org/PismoHorseParking or by calling The Land Conservancy at 805-544-9096.

What size truck and trailer rig can fit in the reserved spaces?

Each spot is 19 feet wide and approximately 70 feet long. Trailers larger than a 4-horse trailer, or a total rig length of 45 feet, are NOT recommended.

When can I reserve horse trailer parking?

There are two time slots per day: 6 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to sunset (parking lot locks one hour after sunset). Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance of the current date. You must depart the parking lot by the end of your reservation time to allow the next trailer to use their reserved parking spot.

How do I prove that I have a reservation?

Print your reservation confirmation email and clearly display it on your dashboard. If you do not have a printer, please clearly print your last name and the license plate number you used to register on a piece of paper and leave it on your dashboard. The Land Conservancy will verify reservations by the license plate number you provide. Make sure you enter the correct license plate number for your truck at the time of reservation.

How do I cancel my reservation?

Cancel your reservation at any time by emailing info@lcslo.org.

What do I do if an auto without a trailer or rig without a reservation is in the equestrian parking zone when I arrive?

Please contact our office immediately at 805-544-9096. If possible, please take a photo of the car and license plate. All cars in the equestrian parking zone will be towed.

If I don’t have a reservation, can I simply park in the paved parking area?

No. Riders need to have a reservation to park a horse trailer at the Preserve. The paved area of the parking lot is not designed to accommodate a mix of autos and rigs. Your horse trailer could get blocked in by other vehicles.

Are helmets required on the Pismo Preserve?

Helmets are highly recommended for riders on the Pismo Preserve. Helmets are required for ALL docent-led rides and organized group rides.

Are the trails single track or wide? Are they multi-use?

Most trails on the Pismo Preserve are single track and open for multiple trail users – including horses, hikers, and mountain bikers. Ranch roads throughout the property are wide and open to all users. The Vamonos Trail and Lover’s Point Trail are only open to hiking. The trails feature gradual elevation change and are designed to provide a clear line of sight. Some trail segments are very narrow. While standard yield rules apply (hikers and bikers yield to horses), it may be easier on some occasions for horses to stop in wide zones and let others pass. Riders should always be on the lookout for areas to let other users pass.

Are bells required for horses and/or mountain bikes?

Mountain bikes are required to have bells. Bells are not required or recommended for horses so that riders can hear the bells on the bikes.

What experience level is suggested for both horse and rider?

The Pismo Preserve is best suited for experienced horses and riders. The narrow trails with steep hillsides and the multi-use nature of the property make it a challenging trail system.

What do I do with my horse’s waste in the parking lot?

Please pick out your horse’s feet before setting out on the trails to help us minimize the spread of weeds. Pack out your horse’s waste from the parking lot – we have provided courtesy rakes and forks in case you forgot your own. Courtesy tools can be found at the end of the horse trailer parking zone near the restrooms. Please return them! The horseback riding community is relying on each other to keep the horse trailer parking zone clean and welcoming.

Are there tie rails and water?

Tie rails have been installed in two locations on the Pismo Preserve: the Avila Overlook and along the Discovery Trail between the Notch and Lover’s Point. There are two water troughs near the center of the Preserve, as marked with a “W” on the trail map. Picnic tables are located near the tie rails. There is a water spigot in the parking lot at the end of the equestrian parking zone near the restrooms. Don’t forget a water bucket! Horses can be tied to the steel rail fence in the parking lot next to your trailer – please do NOT tie to the rail if your horse may pull back.

Is there staff onsite? How do I report a problem or give feedback?

The Preserve is staffed part-time. If you have a minor problem or want to provide feedback, please contact our office at (805) 544-9096 or email us at info@lcslo.org. In case of an emergency please call 911. We encourage riders to carry a cell phone, which will work across most of the Pismo Preserve.

When do you graze cattle on the Preserve?

Yes. Cattle are usually brought to the Preserve in the Spring and rotated between two pastures before being removed in the Fall. If you visit the Preserve, please remember to close the gates behind you to keep livestock where they need to be.

What sort of treatment of invasive species occurs at the Preserve?

To manage fire risk and reduce impacts to native habitat, we work closely with our on-staff Pest Control Advisor and our ranching tenant to manage weeds onsite.

How does LCSLO manage fire risk?

LCSLO leases the property for cattle grazing and goats are used for brush management and shaded fuel breaks where needed, which reduces the risk of catastrophic fire. Smoking and campfires are strictly forbidden. The park includes three emergency ingress and egress points.

How does the Preserve impact local neighborhoods?

Access to the Preserve is from Mattie Road, which is directly accessible from Highway 101, without traversing through surrounding neighborhoods. This is the only public entry point for the property and is located near the on and off-ramps for Highway 101. The Preserve is a recreational attraction popular with both local residents and area tourists alike. Visitation to the Preserve creates an economic boost for businesses with visitor-servicing amenities such as restaurants, coffee shops and gas stations.

How is the Pismo Preserve funded?

The Preserve is funded by donations from the community, in-kind services from local consultants and other professionals, and local grants. Donations to support ongoing maintenance are always welcome and appreciated.

How will the property be protected in perpetuity and what’s to keep LCSLO from selling it to a private party someday?

The Land Conservancy is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation and we are accountable to the public we serve per State and Federal laws. We must uphold our promises to our donors and funders. In addition, the State agencies who funded the purchase require that we place restrictions on the deed that are recorded at the County-Clerk Recorders office that state that the land will be used for public benefit as defined by the funding sources. The deed restrictions state that the land shall become the property of the State or designated similar conservation organization should The Land Conservancy cease to exist in the future.

How can I help?

You can donate directly to the Preserve today or sign up to volunteer in the future! If you are a contractor that would like to provide in-kind services to the Pismo Preserve project, please contact us at info@lcslo.org. If you are interested in volunteering, please email Niki at nikiu@lcslo.org. Thank you!