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Los Osos Oaks - California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo Coast
Los Osos Oaks - California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo Coast
The Reserve is also the home of several species of lichen that can be found nowhere else. Visitors should look for wisps of lichens and mosses dangling from oak branches throughout the reserve.
According to botanists, five major plant communities thrive within the State Natural Reserve. They are coastal sage scrub, central coastal scrub, dune oak scrub, coast live oak forest, and riparian (streamside). The oak communities exist close to each other, but each has its own character. The oak scrub has dwarf oak trees growing on the ancient (relict) sand dune. Though they are coast live oak trees, they rarely grow more than six to eight feet tall. The larger coast live oaks are located where the soil is moister. These giants can grow to 25 feet in height. Their massive trunks and gnarled branches twist into all sorts of fantastic shapes.

Seasons - Climate - Recommended clothing
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.

Facilities - Activities - Hiking
At the beginning of the reserve's trail, traffic noise from the busy road dominates. Penetrating deeper into the park, these sounds diminish, giving way to birds singing, water trickling in Los Osos Creek, and wind rustling through the oaks. Trails wind through the variety of plant communities, and the trail is alternately in bright sunlight or dappled shade.

Poison Oak at Los Osos Oaks - California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo CoastA word of caution: one of the predominant undergrowth plants in the area is poison oak. A sign at the entrance helps visitors identify and stay away from this pesky plant. Staying on the trails helps to avoid contact.

There is a variety of wildlife in the park. Visitors can spot a shy plain titmouse, or see a California valley quail rustling through the underbrush. Visitors may also see a brush rabbit darting across the trail, or encounter the home of a nocturnal dusky-footed wood rat.

The Reserve is also the home of several species of lichen that can be found nowhere else. Visitors should look for wisps of lichens and mosses dangling from oak branches throughout the reserve.

About the Park
In 1769, Gaspar de Portola's expedition passed through the Los Osos Valley. Father Crespi's diary notes that the expedition saw "troops of bears (osos)" in the valley, and, since then, it became known as the Los Osos Valley. When the new Monterey mission populace faced starvation, a hunting expedition was sent to the Los Osos Valley, killed many grizzlies, and packed the meat back to Monterey, saving the people there from disaster.

Los Osos Oaks was part of a Mexican land grant that was eventually divided into farm and ranchland. Incredibly, unlike the trees in the surrounding area which were cleared away to allow for agriculture, the magnificent oaks in the park are still growing.

1.5 miles of trails over a relatively flat sandy terrain. Dwarf oaks grow in a mineral-depleted soil of “relic” sand dunes. Poison oak can be found throughout the state reserve. Camping, fires, and dogs are not permitted.

There are no restrooms or facilities for picnicking. 90 acre grove of dwarfed, 800-year-old coast live oaks on an ancient dune habitat. Located in eastern portion of the community of Los Osos adjacent to Los Osos Valley Road. Established in 1972, thanks to the Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) Foundation.

Amenities & Facilities at a Glance
  Hiking Trails   Nature Trails
Hiking Trails
Nature Trails
Los Osos Oaks Brochure


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The reserve is located on Los Osos Valley Road in the Los Osos Valley, just outside the town of Los Osos, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Poison Oak at Los Osos Oaks - California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo Coast
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