Remember when I went to Paso Robles, Calif., and fell in love with the place? Well, Ryan and I loved it SO much that we went back recently for a getaway that was pretty much my own version of heaven. Fresh seafood, gorgeous views, amazing wine … and a hike that took two things I love — the ocean and mountains — and put them together.
We happened to be in the Paso Robles area during a pretty quiet time of year, which was awesome because every time we went to a tasting room, we’d have the host of the tasting pretty much all to ourselves. Meaning that I could ask them LOTS of questions. Obviously, I’d ask all about the wine, but I’d also pick their brains on places to eat and hikes. Oh, there are so many hiking options! After talking to a particularly nice and knowledgeable fellow at Calcareous (gorgeous winery, great wine — thanks for the suggestions, Karl!), we decided to hike Valencia Peak at Montaña de Oro State Park.
And it was everything. About a 45-minute drive from our place in Templeton, we pretty much got to summit a mountain that was right next to the ocean. The sign says it was two miles to the top, but it felt a little longer than that. I brought my Brooks PureGrit to hike in, and they did darn well on the rocky trail. (For a longer hike, I’d need true hiking boots, but these did the trick for this one!)
Photos never seem to do a trail justice in its difficulty, but see that big hill ahead? That’s where we were going. While there were a few flat parts, most of the trail was pretty darn steep. It got my heart pumping!
But for the effort, you were blessed with incredible views of the ocean and rolling hills. Just gorgeous.
The weather was pretty perfect, too. Sunny but windy, it would have been chilly if you weren’t moving. But, we were moving pretty good. (Notice the jacket? Told you I love it!)
About 45 minutes of hiking later, we were at the top! Since we started at pretty much sea level, the elevation gain for just two miles is quite a workout.
At the summit, we had a snack, chatted with some fellow hikers and took a couple of obligatory top-of-the-world photos.
On the way down, we saw this. Little as he may be, all I can say is that I’m glad we saw it on the way down, and not on the way up.
We got the recommendation from Brandy at Linne Calodo, and it was pretty much the best fish “taco” experience of my life. It started with chips and three types of salsa from the salsa bar (so fresh and fun — they even had pickled veggies!).
And ended with a fish taco that was beyond epic. I got freshly caught cod; Ryan got halibut.
LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT. That’s “one” taco, folks. (Totally worth the $20 price tag.)
The fish was so fresh, delicious and plentiful, the slaw and salad greens were so crisp, and down way below all the fish and veggies were two yummy corn tortillas topped with a little cheese. All that plus the mango salsa and that green sauce (I don’t know what’s in it, but it’s awesome), and it was fabulous. And, yes, I got a doggie bag — and, yes, it was delicious later that evening around 11 p.m. after we finished a bottle of Zin off.
It was pretty much the best day ever. Hiking … good and local fresh food … being in nature … is there anything better? I think not.
Do you like to pair your vacay workouts with a little foodieness, too? Want the mountains and the ocean? Do tell! And if you’ve ever done this hike or eaten at Taco Temple, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! —Jenn