Cal Poly SLO students can hike, boulder and rock climb for free at the University Union and Bishop’s Peak

Arguably a riskier form of traditional harnessed rock climbing, bouldering refers to a harness- free style of rock climbing, usually at an urban climbing wall or rock gym.  Walls are placed over a bouldering pad or crash mat designed to make straits less dire for climbers.  Bouldering also takes pace at the base of larger rock faces, with soft squishy grass (or just plain dirt) serving as nature’s crash mat (boulderers usually also employ a cushioned backpack for falls).  Where you can boulder, you can usually rock climb; here in San Luis Obispo, we have both bouldering and rock climbing, in town or on the rocks- literally.  The University Union’s climbing wall (as well as Crux Climbing Center and SLO Op bouldering gym) and the base of Bishop’s Peak are both hot spots for this adrenaline- driven sport.  Poly students can scale the UU’s Climbing Wall for free Monday through Friday, 11 am- 5 pm (generally); Bishop’s Peak is open from dusk till dawn daily, but that doesn’t stop hikers from bringing a flashlight and catching a little sunrise/ sunset action. Poly Escapes provides shoes, harnesses and helmets, and the crew is usually more than happy to train a newbie.

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Poly Escapes:  1 Grand Avenue

San Luis Obispo, CA 93410-0025

(805) 756-1287

Finding Bishop’s Peak:  There are generally two ways to get to the Bishop’s Peak trailhead.  One starts at a grassy field on Foothill (in San Luis Obispo) and circles the mountain once before meeting up with the Bishop’s Peak trail head.  Heading west on Foothill Boulevard, turn right onto Patricia Drive. Follow Patricia Drive and just after Patricia Court is the trailhead on the left.

The other one involves going straight up Highland.  Use this street address:

1 Highland Avenue

San Luis Obispo, CA, 93405

It doesn’t say “NOW ENTERING BISHOP’S PEAK TRAILHEAD” or anything obvious like that.  I much prefer the Highland route.  It can lop about one hour and .8 miles off your hike.


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