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

Updated on July 20, 2016
WannaB Writer profile image

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 | Source

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. | Source

How to Find Kiler Canyon Road

Kiler Canyon Road from Vine St. to Arbor Rd.

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As you turn the corner from Vine St., this is what you will see to your right. This is one of the first views to the left.The is the intersection of Kiler Canyon & Ariba Rd. to the left. There is a sign. It's a short side trip with some nice fews of its own. I like to take sunset pictures from there. The road goes through a woodsy area here. We start down the hill here.This is one of the first views of the Écluse Vineyard. The tasting room is only open on weekend afternoons.This is the entrance to the Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast -- a luxurious place to spend a few days relaxing while you spend time in Paso Robles. It has easy access and is minutes from downtown events and wine tasting.This is one of the interesting dead oaks among the live oaks. Most oaks I stopped to identify were the evergreen live oaks in this area.
As you turn the corner from Vine St., this is what you will see to your right.
As you turn the corner from Vine St., this is what you will see to your right. | Source
This is one of the first views to the left.
This is one of the first views to the left. | Source
The is the intersection of Kiler Canyon & Ariba Rd. to the left. There is a sign. It's a short side trip with some nice fews of its own. I like to take sunset pictures from there.
The is the intersection of Kiler Canyon & Ariba Rd. to the left. There is a sign. It's a short side trip with some nice fews of its own. I like to take sunset pictures from there. | Source
The road goes through a woodsy area here.
The road goes through a woodsy area here. | Source
We start down the hill here.
We start down the hill here. | Source
This is one of the first views of the Écluse Vineyard. The tasting room is only open on weekend afternoons.
This is one of the first views of the Écluse Vineyard. The tasting room is only open on weekend afternoons. | Source
This is the entrance to the Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast -- a luxurious place to spend a few days relaxing while you spend time in Paso Robles. It has easy access and is minutes from downtown events and wine tasting.
This is the entrance to the Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast -- a luxurious place to spend a few days relaxing while you spend time in Paso Robles. It has easy access and is minutes from downtown events and wine tasting. | Source
This is one of the interesting dead oaks among the live oaks. Most oaks I stopped to identify were the evergreen live oaks in this area.
This is one of the interesting dead oaks among the live oaks. Most oaks I stopped to identify were the evergreen live oaks in this area. | Source

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.


The Beginning of the Adventure

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The trees will begin to line the road almost as soon as you turn onto it, but you will still be able to see past the trees to the light. This picture features one of the manzanita shrubs to be seen occasionally among the predominantly oak trees.This is an example of the occasional glimpse you will have beyond the trees and shrubs.
The trees will begin to line the road almost as soon as you turn onto it, but you will still be able to see past the trees to the light.
The trees will begin to line the road almost as soon as you turn onto it, but you will still be able to see past the trees to the light. | Source
This picture features one of the manzanita shrubs to be seen occasionally among the predominantly oak trees.
This picture features one of the manzanita shrubs to be seen occasionally among the predominantly oak trees. | Source
This is an example of the occasional glimpse you will have beyond the trees and shrubs.
This is an example of the occasional glimpse you will have beyond the trees and shrubs. | Source

Into the Deeper Woods Beside the Canyon

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These pictures are taken on that part of the road that looks into the canyon on the right and is also forest on the left. This is where the forest gets spooky.This shot looks deep into the forested canyon. I thought this dead curved trunk at the edge of the canyon added interest. I love the effect of all the twisted limbs and branches. We have more of these twisted trees covered with moss here. Here we get a brief look past the forest to the hills and light beyond. The bottom of this nature-sculpted tree could be interpreted many ways. Here we see most of that same "double" tree.Here we see two different oak species side by side. The road also narrows here, as you can see. As you can tell, I like the odd shapes of wounded trees. Note the narrowness of the road. A tree makes an arch all the way across the road, high enough for cars to pass under it.  We have another tree down here, surrounded by live trees garbed in moss. The poison oak, now red because it's autumn, covered much of the forest and the sides of the narrrow road. It's even reaching into the road a bit on the left.
These pictures are taken on that part of the road that looks into the canyon on the right and is also forest on the left. This is where the forest gets spooky.
These pictures are taken on that part of the road that looks into the canyon on the right and is also forest on the left. This is where the forest gets spooky. | Source
This shot looks deep into the forested canyon.
This shot looks deep into the forested canyon. | Source
I thought this dead curved trunk at the edge of the canyon added interest.
I thought this dead curved trunk at the edge of the canyon added interest. | Source
I love the effect of all the twisted limbs and branches.
I love the effect of all the twisted limbs and branches. | Source
We have more of these twisted trees covered with moss here.
We have more of these twisted trees covered with moss here. | Source
Here we get a brief look past the forest to the hills and light beyond.
Here we get a brief look past the forest to the hills and light beyond. | Source
The bottom of this nature-sculpted tree could be interpreted many ways.
The bottom of this nature-sculpted tree could be interpreted many ways. | Source
Here we see most of that same "double" tree.
Here we see most of that same "double" tree. | Source
Here we see two different oak species side by side. The road also narrows here, as you can see.
Here we see two different oak species side by side. The road also narrows here, as you can see. | Source
As you can tell, I like the odd shapes of wounded trees. Note the narrowness of the road.
As you can tell, I like the odd shapes of wounded trees. Note the narrowness of the road. | Source
A tree makes an arch all the way across the road, high enough for cars to pass under it.
A tree makes an arch all the way across the road, high enough for cars to pass under it.
We have another tree down here, surrounded by live trees garbed in moss.
We have another tree down here, surrounded by live trees garbed in moss. | Source
The poison oak, now red because it's autumn, covered much of the forest and the sides of the narrrow road. It's even reaching into the road a bit on the left.
The poison oak, now red because it's autumn, covered much of the forest and the sides of the narrrow road. It's even reaching into the road a bit on the left. | Source

Back into the Light

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I took this picture from the high road after the fork, where I found room to park and walk a bit. This is what was around that last bend and we are still climbing.I got good hilltop views in this section and there was room to park, so I walked for a bit while I waited for the sun to go down. From my position near the summit, I was able to look down and see what the road would look like coming down. On the other side of the road you can see one of the vineyards.Here's a peak through the walnut orchard. Here's view through the brush, looking across.The walnut trees were lined up like soldiers.
I took this picture from the high road after the fork, where I found room to park and walk a bit.
I took this picture from the high road after the fork, where I found room to park and walk a bit. | Source
This is what was around that last bend and we are still climbing.
This is what was around that last bend and we are still climbing. | Source
I got good hilltop views in this section and there was room to park, so I walked for a bit while I waited for the sun to go down.
I got good hilltop views in this section and there was room to park, so I walked for a bit while I waited for the sun to go down. | Source
From my position near the summit, I was able to look down and see what the road would look like coming down. On the other side of the road you can see one of the vineyards.
From my position near the summit, I was able to look down and see what the road would look like coming down. On the other side of the road you can see one of the vineyards. | Source
Here's a peak through the walnut orchard.
Here's a peak through the walnut orchard. | Source
Here's view through the brush, looking across.
Here's view through the brush, looking across. | Source
The walnut trees were lined up like soldiers.
The walnut trees were lined up like soldiers. | Source

Darkness Quietly Descends on the Hills

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This side is almost dark. As you can see, the colors only reflect on this side of the road.Another view from the dark side as the sun sinks lower.Even this side is beginning to dim in the twilight now. The road is headed around the bend toward the setting sun. It's almost dark and time to race the sun to the bottom of the hill. I wanted to be back on pavement by dark. I made it while it was still light enough to see the sights on the way down  Peachy Canyon Road.
This side is almost dark.
This side is almost dark. | Source
As you can see, the colors only reflect on this side of the road.
As you can see, the colors only reflect on this side of the road. | Source
Another view from the dark side as the sun sinks lower.
Another view from the dark side as the sun sinks lower. | Source
Even this side is beginning to dim in the twilight now.
Even this side is beginning to dim in the twilight now. | Source
The road is headed around the bend toward the setting sun.
The road is headed around the bend toward the setting sun. | Source
It's almost dark and time to race the sun to the bottom of the hill. I wanted to be back on pavement by dark. I made it while it was still light enough to see the sights on the way down  Peachy Canyon Road.
It's almost dark and time to race the sun to the bottom of the hill. I wanted to be back on pavement by dark. I made it while it was still light enough to see the sights on the way down Peachy Canyon Road. | Source

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.

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 dirve. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are usually safe times to find them open.


How Brave Are You?

If you had the opportunity to drive this during the dry season, might you do it?

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I'd love to have your feedback here.

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  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

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

  • K9keystrokes profile image

    India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

    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

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    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.

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    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.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

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

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

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

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    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.

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    always perhaps the name is really KILLER Canyon Road!!

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    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.

  • Happyboomernurse profile image

    Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

    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.

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    Thanks, Happy Boomer. Thanks for coming along.

  • qlcoach profile image

    Gary Eby 5 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

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

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

    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!!

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    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.

  • Denise Handlon profile image

    Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

    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.

  • WannaB Writer profile image
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    Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

    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.

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