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Kiler Canyon Road: A Scenic Drive in Paso Robles, California

Barb loves living in San Luis Obispo County, California and wants to share its beauty with those who can't see it in person.

Kiler Canyon Road Summit

I took this picture from the summit of Kiler Canyon Road in Paso Robles

I took this picture from the summit of Kiler Canyon Road in Paso Robles

Kiler Canyon Road is for the Bold

My first experience with Kiler Canyon Road was about two weeks after a series of rain storms. My husband and I were coming home from church and thought we'd try a new way home. We had never driven on Kiler Canyon, so we decided to do it and see where it went. The first part of the drive was on a paved road which went uphill in a pretty typical rural neighborhood -- large homes on acreage with trees, fences, some animals, orchards, and small farms. Then we started downhill and saw more of the same.

We then came to a section that warned us not to drive it in rainy weather. Well, it hadn't rained in two weeks, so we decided to keep going. Big mistake. The road was no longer paved, and we entered a forest with lots of shade over the road, which was rapidly becoming very muddy. The woods were beautiful, as is often true during rainy season. We saw some wild turkeys and magnificent oak trees. It was very enjoyable until we got stuck in the mud before the days of cell phones. We were still in our church clothes. It was not likely anyone else would be stupid enough to be driving by, so we were on our own. That was several years ago, and I don't know how we managed to get ourselves out of the mud, but I do remember that both of us expended a lot of effort. So my advice is, don't ever try this drive unless it's been dry for some time and no mud could possibly be left on this road. But during the dry season, it's worth the adventure if you are bold enough.

The Most Important Signpost

This intersection leads to the rest of Kiler Canyon Road if you follow the paved road to the right. If you go left on Arbor Rd., you will land on 46 West in a few minutes.

This intersection leads to the rest of Kiler Canyon Road if you follow the paved road to the right. If you go left on Arbor Rd., you will land on 46 West in a few minutes.

How to Find Kiler Canyon Road

Choosing Your Route

Kiler Canyon Road begins Off Vine Street, just east of First Street in Paso Robles. It ends on Peachy Canyon Road in West Paso Robles. To see all of it you will need to click on the map. To get back to Paso Robles from the end of Kiler Canyon Road, you need to go right on Peachy Canyon downhill past several vineyards and tasting rooms that you looked down at from the summit of Kiler Canyon Road. Peachy Canyon is PAVED. This capsule explains the route of the most scenic drive on Kiler Canyon Road. Most of it is not paved.

To begin, Take First Street South from Spring Street. Turn left on Vine Street. (The Courtyard Marriott Hotel will be on your left. ) Go about half a block to Kiler Canyon Road and turn right. I will show you below how the scenery on that corner looks. Kiler Canyon will have several curves and go past several homes on acreage. It will briefly pass through a live oak woods. Shortly after that you will pass the Écluse Vineyards on your right. Before you know it, you will reach a dead end. I have put a picture of that dead end at Arbor Road above. This is your last chance to chicken out of taking the full Kiler Canyon drive. If you take the dirt road to the left, it will pass a few farms and vineyards before it becomes a paved road past the intersection with Live Oak Road. In ten minutes or less, you will land on Highway 46 West, just a bit west of the 101 Freeway. It's good to know your options.


Now the Real Kiler Canyon Adventure Starts

If you're ready for the adventure, at the intersection with Arbor Road, take the paved road around the curve to the right. It won't be paved very long. Just before you enter the unpaved woods, you get your last warning not to proceed if there's been any recent rain. Please heed that warning. If you don't, you will be sorry. Your adventure begins here. The road will get very narrow before you go your first mile. There will be spooky looking woods on both sides. They are so spooky you may imagine there are orcs and spiders waiting to attack. You would not want to get stuck here at night. Allow yourself about three hours to go these few miles because you may want to stop and walk a bit and take some pictures, because you probably won't choose to come this way again.

Note: As you look at the photos below, you will find the captions may not be visible until you scroll an inch or two. Click the arrow or thumbnail for a photo and then scroll down until the caption appears. It will give you a better understanding of each photo.

As you get deeper into the woods, the road becomes very narrow. It gets so narrow, in fact, you will be in a very awkward postion if you meet a car going the other way. I was very fortunate that this did not happen to me because I would not have wanted to back up a very long way. It was difficult enough to go frontwards without hitting the poison oak that grows on both sides and getting the oil on my car doors. You will spend a long time going through this fairlyland of deep woods that go down into what must be Kiler Canyon.

When it finally happens that you see light ahead, you will find yourself at a fork in the road. The way to the left is a driveway with a large address sign. I stopped to ask for directions because the road to the right went up a hill and I wanted to know what would happen if I took it. The homeowner and his small dogs and children met my car so that I did not have to get out. He assured me the road up the hill was the right way and it would eventually get me to Peachy Canyon Road. If I turned right on Peachy Canyon, I would get back to town eventually. Peachy Canyon ends in Pacific, which runs into Olive which curves around to 4th Street and runs back into Vine. So if you take that way, you will have almost have gone in a complete circle.

If you turn left on Peachy Canyon, instead, it will take you southwest to Vineyard Drive, which will take you to Highway 46 West. It's always good to see the big picture before you start out. If you'd like a paper map, almost any tasting room will have a map of wine country, and that's all you need.

Once you are past the fork, you are out of the woods and headed for the summit. The road gets wider and you will be a more relaxed driver. For all practical purposes, you are back in civilization, because there is a vineyard with a portable toilet near the top. You probably won't see any people, but you will get an overview of of wine country from the summit. There is room to park and walk around to admire the view of the rolling hills and vineyards below. I decided to wait until the sun set, since it would occur within of few minutes of my reaching the top. It was cool enough to do some walking, so I took advantage of that. As you look at the pictures, you will see that the ones on the shady side are darker, while the ones taken from the other side where the sun was still shining are lighter. They were all taken within minutes and a few yards of each other.

The way down to Peachy Canyon was a breeze compared to the rest. Peachy Canyon was paved, and the views there were also very scenic, but you do have to watch the curves. If you want to visit any of the tasting rooms on your way down, do check the schedules before you start your drive. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are usually safe times to find them open.


How Brave Are You?

Don't miss my other hubs on North San Luis Obispo County

I'd love to have your feedback here.

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 08, 2011:

Denise, in some ways this would have been easier on foot, were it not so long a trek. Thanks for coming with me on my drive, and taking time to comment.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on November 08, 2011:

Great photos! WannaB- I remember trekking through some canyon roads when I lived in CA and it definitely is different terrain. Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 05, 2011:

qlcoach, when I see something beautiful or exciting, I always want to share it with someone. Thanks for stopping by to join me on my journey.

Audrey, I probably would have enjoyed this more if Kosta had been with me, but he was busy elsewhere that day. I think I'd like to do the motorhome trip, too, but I'm afraid to drive one. Glad you enjoyed my photo tour.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on November 05, 2011:

Barbara - definitely would do it but would make sure I had a friend or my Bob with me!! There are so many wonderful places to see and I love the photo tours. I haven't been back to my home state in many, many years and surely miss it. Thank you for reminding me about all the beautiful things there are to see.

As I told Gail on one of her pictorial tours...I need to sell my house, buy a huge motor home (so I can take my infamous malamutes with me of course and Bob - and the computer) and then travel around to all the places I so long to see....only I will have to win the lottery so I can afford the gas money - or just offer to cook for everyone along the way and maybe garner enough funds to get to the next town....hmm...not a bad idea actually!

Good luck in the contest!!

Gary Eby from Cave Junction, Oregon on November 05, 2011:

There is incredible beauty here. Thanks for sharing this Hub. Here's to the rainbow-colored Light that shines through Nature. Peace.....Gary

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 03, 2011:

Thanks, Happy Boomer. Thanks for coming along.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on November 03, 2011:

Great hub. It was an adventure just watching your pictures of the trip down that road.

Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. Good luck in the contest.

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 02, 2011:

Hyphenbird, maybe that's too extreme, unless someone is stupid enough to try to drive fast on it -- like one of the people who owns property on it. I suspect very few people who don't live there drive it.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 02, 2011:

always perhaps the name is really KILLER Canyon Road!!

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 02, 2011:

always exploring and phdast7, thanks for joining me vicariously on my adventure. I'm sure glad I had my camera, because now I can relive the trip without driving it again. If I'd known just how narrow the road was, I might not have dared do it myself. I only knew it was bad if muddy. I think though, it would make good hiking on the dirt portion -- even if one goes only part way, like the hikers I met on their way back to their car.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on November 02, 2011:

Interesting story and adventure. I think killer canyon would make me pretty nervous. Nice pictures. :)d

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on November 02, 2011:

Beautiful scenery . I would never drive there, I'm a chicken..HaHa..Thank's

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 01, 2011:

K9, I was amazed to find that tree. As to passengers, I think I would rather have a tow truck driver in front of me more than a passenger. But that would ruin the quiet. I did run into a couple hiking. They had parked their car in the one place one could pull over beside where someone had dumped a mattress and some other stuff. I wonder if they thought they'd be able to somehow make a U-turn to get out, since they gave me a bum steer about how far it was to the end in the direction his car was headed. I don't think they knew.

Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 01, 2011:

Hyphenbird, fortunately Kiler Canyon is not the only place near me with spooky oak forests. I discovered this weekend that my across the fence neighbor also has some, and he let me walk through them Saturday. One of these days I might even hike up my own hill and see if I can get through those trees on the other side of the fence up there. I'm not even sure whose woods those are or if the fence has been mended in the ten years since I last walked up there. There's plenty of pretty places to visit here, but my curiosity motivated me to take Kiler Canyon.

India Arnold from Northern, California on November 01, 2011:

The Nature-sculpted tree is awesome! What a unique form. I loved the visual tour of Paso Robles killer canyon road. I think I might avoid taking that drive unless I had one really calm passenger! Great stuff here wannabwriter!

Cheers~

K9

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 01, 2011:

That area is gorgeous. Your photos are lovely and your information interesting. Great job WannaB.

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