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Private Group Walks
The Dunes Center offers private naturalist led group walks at Oso Flaco Lake. A private walk with family, friends or co-workers is a perfect choice while on vacation, to celebrate your birthday or anniversary, or to reward your staff. Check out our current pricing. For more information and to schedule your group walk, contact us at email@example.com or 805.343.2455. For a full listing of upcoming walks and hikes visit our calendar of events
Oso Flaco Lake- A Californa State Park
Just north of Guadalupe, California, lies one of the most scenic natural areas all along California’s coast, Oso Flaco Lake. To get there, three miles north of Guadalupe, turn west onto Oso Flaco Lake Road, this road will dead end at the parking area for this hidden State Park.
Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area is a part of Oceano Dunes SVRA, a California State Park. Access is permitted sunrise to sunset throughout the year. Parking is $5 per vehicle. Trailhead begins through the white gate.
The lake has been called Oso Flaco, meaning “skinny bear,” ever since 1769 when Gaspar de Portola's expedition passed through. The reason for this is attributed to a fateful meal shared by the explorers. The group saw, shot and subsequently ate a skinny bear they had seen on the shores of the lake. By the next day, several of the men had died. The tale goes that the native people, the Chumash, had fed the bear tainted meat which when consumed would cause the animals to sicken enough for them to be unable to compete for resources. With the inability to feed came the inevitable wasting that would have led to our 'skinny bear'. It would appear though that the bear's flesh had enough residual toxins to have also dispatched our ill fated explorers to a quicker demise.
An Overview of the Trail
You will reach the end of the causeway and come to the bridge. Turn west onto the bridge and walk out over the lake to see incredible views of dunes and the surrounding landscape. Many birds make their home in and around the lake.
Across the lake you will enter the stabilized dunes where silver dune lupine, coyote bush, deer weed and dunes paintbrush and a wide variety of birds, reptiles, mammals and many other plants live.
At the end of the boardwalk you will find a viewing platform that affords scenic views of the entire San Luis Bay from Point San Luis in the north, to Mussel Rock in the south. There you will also find the foredunes, or the area of dunes closest to the beach. This area is where the western snowy plover makes its nest, be sure to follow all appropriate signage and enjoy the beach!
Important Poisonous Plants
giant stinging nettle, Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea
poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
poison hemlock, Conium maculatum
Wildlife—keep your eyes open and you can see mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.