Beginning Note: I have heard this hike called both Red Rock and High School Hill, but I think High School Hill is the more common name for it.
This is one of my favorite short hikes in San Luis Obispo. It’s a 4 mile out and back hike that’s moderately difficult. My favorite part of the hike is that there is an interesting metal structure at the top that you can climb and play around on. When it’s clear, there are great views of Bishops Peak, Madonna, and you can occasionally see all the way to the ocean. In the spring when the hills are green and the wildflowers are blooming it’s especially beautiful. This hike is also part of the Three Peak or Tri-Tip Challenge in San Luis Obispo where you hike Bishops, Madonna, and this hill and then you go eat a tri-tip sandwich at Firestone Grill downtown. If you have a whole day to spend in SLO and enjoy hiking, I would definitely recommend doing these three hikes (and getting the sandwich because Firestone is bomb).
Another great thing about this hike is that it’s very easy to find the trailhead. It’s at the end of Lizzy Street. You drive up the hill until the street end and then the trail starts there.
The trail starts on a fairly flat, but rocky, narrow trail that is fenced in my a wooden fence. This is the only part of the trail that is shaded by trees so enjoy it while you can.
After this first part, the hike basically just climbs at a fairly steady and steep pace until you reach the top of the hill. The trail cuts up the hillside, and there are often wildflower and Yucca plants in bloom along on the trail. Unfortunately, on the way up your back is turned towards the view, but, because this trail is such a steady climb, I usually take some breaks and that offers you a chance to turn around and look out at the view.
Another note: if it has just rained or it is going to rain, DO NOT DO THIS HIKE. It gets super slippery when its wet because of the steepness and the rocks on the trail. I also would not recommend this hike for a sunrise hike due to the weather in SLO. It’s often foggy in the morning and usually doesn’t clear away until mid morning. I made the mistake of doing this hike at sunrise once and the fog was so thick that it looked like there was a white sheet behind us in photos.
Once you reach the top, you’ll have great views of all of San Luis Obispo. The town and Bishops Peak are laid out in front of you, and then to the side you can see the rolling hills of the Paso Robles grade. There is also a metal structure/bell tower at the top that I have always taken the time to climb and play on. This structure used to be red, but I believe it is currently green.
Overall, this is a fun, quick, but difficult hike that provides you with great views. It’s in a fairly central location in SLO and easy to find.