Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Wide open space, sunsets with Morro Rock as the back drop, plus all the amazing aspects of a beach ride make Morro Strand State Beach a popular SLO County trail ride.

Getting There, Parking and Where You Can Go at Morro Strand State Beach

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Getting there is easy! Drop down from North County to Morro Bay via scenic Hwy 41 going straight at the stop sign. Take the Hwy 41 Exit and turn left if approaching along Hwy 1 from San Luis Obispo or South County. Either way you’ll continue under the Highway 1 overpass. Keep going straight past Morro Bay High School and you will soon see a large turnout perfect for parking your rig.

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

The beach access is just a few hundred feet to the west of the parking area. The sand is deep through the access area, but soon firms up as you mosey onto the wide-open expanse of Morro Strand State Beach.

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County TrailsTo your left Morro Rock rises out of the ocean reaching towards to sky.


Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County TrailsTo your right the shoreline leads you to the sleepy coastal town of Cayucos.


Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County TrailsIn front of you is a great expanse of firm yet resilient sand, with ocean waves continually crashing and seasonal flocks of birds – like the Marbled Godwit who enjoy eating crustaceans just under the sand’s surface – surrounding you. A bonus here is no beach vehicle traffic.


You Have Several Options Before You:

Enjoy the Wide Open Space

Take a leisurely stroll, or brisk jaunt to the first outcropping of rocks, stay and work in this open space or make the trek all the way to Cayucos.

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Three ladies out for a morning ride stopped for a photo shoot and talked about what brings them to this beach for a ride:

Sarah Kroll, riding Masters Nu Fox a Quarter Horse mare owned by Lindsey James, explained, “There is so much to introduce horses to here – the waves, surfers, open space and sometimes even tents and kites! It’s a great place for horses to work out in the open.”

Sara Kroll : “I’m a full-time mom and graphic designer/ illustrator at Topline Design, and ride whenever I have time! My husband and I live in Los Osos with our 1.5 year old daughter.”

Katie Kopensky, riding her horse Landonaire a WT warmblood gelding, says, “We haul down here in the winter when we get a lot of rain and are dealing with mud. We can easily work our horses here.”

Katie Kopensky : “I work for western show clothing designer Lindsey James and manage Coastal Equine Ranch in San Luis Obispo. When I’m not working, I enjoy riding and showing my horses with Dana Andersen Equestrian. I’m a Cal Poly animal science graduate.”

Morgan Nicodemus, riding Clanfair Francesca a Welsh pony mare, remarked, “I like it when it is quiet here.” We then contrasted this beach experience with Pismo Natural Preserve where vehicles are always part of the experience.

Morgan Nicodemus: “I graduated from Cal Poly last June with a bachelors in Agribusiness and started working for Lindsey James show clothing & Coastal Equine Ranch. Spending time outdoors is my favorite pastime whether it be riding horses or hiking mountains, I’m always happy out adventuring!”


Make A Trek to Cayucos

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

It is possible to ride all the way to Cayucos (5 miles one way) and enjoy lunch or a quick bite from a street front restaurant, but there are several conditions you must be aware of.

First – It must be low tide

There are two places where big rocks can only be negotiated during the time around the lowest low tide. You will have to account for the change in tide levels on the return trip. You can consult a Morro Bay Tide Chart < by clicking this link to make the best plan for your ride.

If the tide is too high, the first (closest to Morro Rock) outcropping can be crossed on a rather technical trail which hugs the base of the hillside. It will involve rock scrambling. This would be best left for the experienced trail horse and rider. Rider discretion is highly advised here, cross at your own risk.

Second – Barefoot Horses Beware

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Lots of smaller rocks in the sand make up the footing coming up to the last rock outcropping around the bend from the town of Cayucos. Your horse will not be able to negotiate around these smaller rocks so barefoot horses beware.

Third – No Obvious Place to Tie Horses in Cayucos

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

Looking for lunch or a quick snack (or a bathroom) once you get to Cayucos? There are several great food options, however there is no obvious place to tie your horses up in Cayucos. So, someone in your party would need to be the holder, or you will have to find a place that is suitable and safe for your horses to tie.

Keep in mind that tourists will find the novelty of a horse on the beach an attraction and you will probably need to remove any manure your horse(s) deposit at your chosen tie location.

A few more notes will help you enjoy your time exploring Morro Strand State Beach on horseback.

  • Always plan for wind and expect it to be chilly.
  • You will encounter many possible “bugaboos” for your horse such as: fisherman, tourists, dogs, surfers with their boards, tents and kites.
  • Dogs may not be allowed on certain sections of the beach, and loose dogs are quite common on other sections.
  • Total ride length from Morro Rock to Cayucos is 5 miles one-way. A round trip could take 2-4 hours.
  • Check the sunset time < by clicking this link, and experience a beautiful evening beach ride.

Morro Strand State Beach: Riding the SLO County Trails

All photos: Sharon Jantzen

Want more trail ride stories? We’ll send you the SLO Horse News Trail Ride Hot Sheet. Join-up with the SLO Horse News Herd here >

Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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