The Land Conservancy has transformed a 900-acre private ranch above Pismo Beach into a public preserve for outdoor recreation and community enjoyment.
Who own's 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.
Is the Pismo Preserve open to the public?
The Pismo Preserve opened to the public on January 26th 2020. We closed temporarily in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 19th we are fully reopened daily from dawn to dusk. Please see our main web page for details.
COVID PRECAUTIONS: updated 4/12/2021
How has The Land Conservancy adjusted operations at the Pismo Preserve in response to COVID-19?
In March 2020 LCSLO temporarily closed the Pismo Preserve in response to state-wide stay-at-home orders. During that closure trails were re-signed for one-way travel and all messaging and maps were updated to reflect travel direction and some temporary trail closures. Restroom cleaning was increased from several times a week to once a day, and additional staff resources were allocated specifically for Pismo Preserve outreach and stewardship. Throughout the summer and early fall we gradually increased the hours and days of operations until it was open daily, knowing that we may need to reverse course if the situation worsened in our community and statewide.
Why can't you just have more staff and volunteers on the trails to help direct people where to hike and inform them of the rules?
The Land Conservancy has increased staff and volunteer presence on the Preserve throughout the year. However, the huge increase in visitors over the last few weeks does put our staff at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 – especially as cases have risen locally and tourism has increased. While we have a few volunteers who continue to help us steward the trails, we are not asking them to put themselves at risk by engaging in public outreach at this time.
If increased trash is a problem, can you put out more trash cans?
We ask all of our visitors to embrace the “pack it in, pack it out,” method of engaging with our local open spaces. It may be a minor inconvenience to hike a mile with your pet’s waste in a bag, but it is a major inconvenience for our staff to hike 3 miles with an entire garbage bag of it. Additionally, the more trash our staff and volunteers have to handle on the trails, the higher their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Can't you just reduce capacity, require a permit, or charge for admission?
Monitoring capacity or requiring a permit would require significant staffing resources that The Land Conservancy is not prepared to cover at this time. We cannot charge for admission due to funding agreements with our project partners, nor would we want to. Our goal has always been to make this a free and accessible open space for all. Additionally, while high attendance increases the risk of exposure, we are seeing non-compliance with State and Federal guidelines and orders no matter the level of use on a given day.
Visiting the Preserve
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 what will it cost to get in?
The Pismo Preserve is open every day from dawn to dusk, including holidays. Parking lot gates will be 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.
Will there be a ranger at the Preserve during hours of operation?
There will be a part-time preserve steward who will open and close the preserve daily, check for garbage and vandalism, and maintain the park’s infrastructure. The Preserve Manager, a private security company along with the Pismo Beach Police Department, and SLO County Sheriff’s Department will be responsible for enforcing the rules that will be in effect 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.
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. Three horse trailer parking spaces can be reserved at www.lcslo.org/PismoHorseParking.
What are Horse Trailer Tuesdays?
(Update 10/2/2020 – HTTs are still temporarily suspended. Check back for updates). On the first and third Tuesday of each month the full parking lot will be available only to truck and horse trailer rigs. The trail system will still be open to all other users. The parking surface is asphalt, so please use caution when loading and unloading your horse. There are no reservations required, however we recommend arriving early to secure a parking spot. The normal time slots will not apply, rigs can arrive anytime and leave anytime between normal open hours.
Are motorized vehicles or E-bikes allowed?
No. The Preserve is open to passive recreation only. LCSLO staff, however, will regularly 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.
Is camping allowed?
Can I hike or ride at night?
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.
How many miles of trail are on the Preserve?
There are currently 11 miles of trail and ranch roads on the property, thanks to hundreds of LCSLO volunteers. We will also construct an ADA accessible trail once funding is secured. There will likely be 14 miles of trails in total once all the loops and connections are completed.
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 will be via the road system.
FAQs for Mountain BikersAre all trails open to Mountain Bikes?
The Vaminos 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:
- Ride in Control, without skidding or sliding on trails.
- Slow for intersections, blind corners and sections of trail with reduced lines of sight.
- Be courteous to hikers, equestrians, and other riders.
- Yield to equestrians and hikers and communicate the best way to safely pass.
- Stay on the trail system.
- Observe all trail closures.
- 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. Communicating 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.
FAQs for EquestriansWhere 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 closes: Nov – Feb: 7 pm, Mar – Oct: 9:30 pm). 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. If a rig owner does not return on time, a “boot” will be placed on a tire. The owner will have to pay a towing company to have their truck released. Exceptions will be made for true emergencies.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 autos in the equestrian parking zone will be towed. Rigs that park in the equestrian zone without a reservation will have a “boot” placed on their tire and the owner will have to pay the towing company to have it removed.
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 (other than on Horse Trailer Tuesdays, “HTT”). 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.
What are Horse Trailer Tuesdays?
(Update 10/2/2020 – HTTs are still temporarily suspended. Check back for updates). On the first and third Tuesday of each month the full parking lot will be available only to truck and horse trailer rigs. The trail system will still be open to all other users. The parking surface is asphalt, so please use caution when loading and unloading your horse. There are no reservations required, however we recommend arriving early to secure a parking spot. The normal time slots will not apply, rigs can arrive anytime and leave anytime between normal open hours. Volunteer parking lot monitors are needed on Horse Trailer Tuesdays. Please email email@example.com if you can help out!
How many rigs can park on Horse Trailer Tuesdays?
(Update 10/2/2020 – HTTs are still temporarily suspended. Check back for updates). We expect the lot to handle up to 11 rigs on the paved area, depending on their length. Rigs can take up a double spot and are encouraged to leave full spaces on either side for the next rig to pull in. Note that the standard equestrian zone (3 spots) will also be available for a total of 14 spots on Horse Trailer Tuesdays. When leaving, the orientation of the parking spots will require you to leave against the flow of traffic on the loop.
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.
Will bells be required for horses and/or mountain bikes?
Mountain bikes will be required to have bells. They 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.
Will staff be onsite? How do I report a problem or give feedback?
The parking lot will not be staffed at all times. If you have a minor problem or want to provide feedback, please contact our office at (805) 544-9096 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.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.
Will you still graze cattle on the Preserve?
Yes. Given the recent drought, we are “resting” the rangeland, meaning we will keep cattle off until the grasses and other plants have had time to recover.
What sort of treatment of invasive species will you do at the Preserve?
To manage fire risk and reduce impacts to native habitat, we will work closely with our on staff Pest Control Advisor on staff and our ranching tenant to manage weeds onsite. Once open to the public, we will also incorporate boot and tire washing stations to help reduce the introduction of new invasive plants and other organisms.
How will LCSLO manage fire risk?
LCSLO will continue to lease the property for cattle grazing and goats will be used for brush management and shaded fuel breaks where needed, which will reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. Smoking and campfires will be strictly forbidden. The park will include three emergency ingress and egress points.
How will the Preserve impact local neighborhoods?
Access to the Preserve will be from Mattie Road, which is directly accessible from Highway 101, without traversing through surrounding neighborhoods. LCSLO expects impacts to those neighborhoods to be minimal. This will be the only public entry point for the property and will be located near the on and off-ramps for Highway 101. It is anticipated the Preserve will become a recreational attraction popular with both local residents and area tourists alike. Visitation to the preserve will likely have an economic boost for businesses with visitor-servicing amenities such as restaurants, coffee shops and gas stations.
How is the Pismo Preserve funded?
LCSLO has a modest endowment to support the operation of the Preserve in the future. The initial access improvements are/will be funded by donations from the community, in-kind services from local consultants and other professionals, and local grants. We are still accepting donations to support the opening of the Preserve and ongoing maintenance.
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 email@example.com. Thank you!