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Photogenic Oak Trees in North San Luis Obispo County

Updated on September 11, 2017
WannaB Writer profile image

Barb's hobbies are photography and studying nature. She gardens and takes photo walks to explore nature and capture it on camera.

An Oak Tree in Winter

This oak tree sits in the middle of a vineyard near Peachy Canyon Tasting Room in Templeton, California. It was taken in winter.
This oak tree sits in the middle of a vineyard near Peachy Canyon Tasting Room in Templeton, California. It was taken in winter. | Source

Two Oaks above Vineyard

These two oaks, which appear to be different varieties, stand above the grape vines. In front you see a border of milk thistles in bloom.
These two oaks, which appear to be different varieties, stand above the grape vines. In front you see a border of milk thistles in bloom. | Source

Oaks and Vineyards Go Together

Some of the most beautiful and unique oak trees are sitting in vineyards. Since I often roam the vineyards of Paso Robles and Templeton, I am always seeing and photographing oak trees. I haven't yet pinned down their species, but that doesn't keep me from appreciating them. Some are short and wide, in comparison to their towering and slimmer cousins. Some are so tall my camera can't take in their full height. Some are so wide I have to walk far away from them to encompass the entire picture. The one above is a deciduous variety. Many of our oaks are more striking in winter because they are in stark contrast to their relatives who are dressing in green all year.

Oak By the Side of the Road

Another large oak hovering over a vineyard in August
Another large oak hovering over a vineyard in August | Source

Trees Among Us

Californian's Guide to the Trees among Us, A
Californian's Guide to the Trees among Us, A

I first saw this book at the Paso Robles Lavender Festival. I was fortunate to be able to meet the author when he led a tree walk through the park, showing us things about the trees there we had never noticed. He then gave a plug for this book, and I had to look it over since it dealt with the trees in my area.

I was ready to buy it that day, but they didn't take credit cards, so I couldn't since I hadn't brought my check book. I was pleased to find that Amazon carries the book, and I bought my copy before I published this. I have used it constantly since then when trying to identify the trees I see around me in California.

 

Tall Oaks at Valhalla Vineyards

These oaks stand outside the fence at Valhalla Vineyards in Paso Robles, California
These oaks stand outside the fence at Valhalla Vineyards in Paso Robles, California | Source

Veris Vineyards Were Full of Oak Trees

Oaks still dot this property in Templeton, but it now is  owned by a distillery. Oaks have wider root systems than their crown, and like to spread out, as these have.
Oaks still dot this property in Templeton, but it now is owned by a distillery. Oaks have wider root systems than their crown, and like to spread out, as these have. | Source

Pomar Junction Oak

This is just one of the many oaks in the vineyards at Pomar Junction in Templeton, California
This is just one of the many oaks in the vineyards at Pomar Junction in Templeton, California | Source

Heart Hill in Paso Robles

Heart Hill  is a grove of oak trees which stands in the midst of the Niner Estates Vineyards in Paso Robles.  The trees have been there in this heart shape since long before the grapes were planted.
Heart Hill is a grove of oak trees which stands in the midst of the Niner Estates Vineyards in Paso Robles. The trees have been there in this heart shape since long before the grapes were planted. | Source

Oak Behind Niner Tasting Room

This oak sits in one of the newer vineyards behind the Niner Tasting Room in Paso Robles, California.
This oak sits in one of the newer vineyards behind the Niner Tasting Room in Paso Robles, California. | Source

Oaks Come in Many Shapes and Sizes

Every oak starts as an acorn similar to these. Each species has its own acorn shape. These acorns, as you see, come from a shrub variety of oak. This one was found on Arbor Road in Paso Robles
Every oak starts as an acorn similar to these. Each species has its own acorn shape. These acorns, as you see, come from a shrub variety of oak. This one was found on Arbor Road in Paso Robles | Source
This oak is about three times the height of the house it's next to. It lives across the street from my mom's house in the Riverbank Tract in Paso Robles. It is February, so it has lost its leaves.
This oak is about three times the height of the house it's next to. It lives across the street from my mom's house in the Riverbank Tract in Paso Robles. It is February, so it has lost its leaves. | Source
I call this oak the survivor oak because it's half missing. It was probably stuck by lightning in this vineyard on Arbor Road where it lives in Paso Robles. I love the way it looks in front of the setting sun.
I call this oak the survivor oak because it's half missing. It was probably stuck by lightning in this vineyard on Arbor Road where it lives in Paso Robles. I love the way it looks in front of the setting sun. | Source
This is another "broken" tree that lives on Arbor Road in Paso Robles.
This is another "broken" tree that lives on Arbor Road in Paso Robles. | Source
The weather has also changed the shape of this Arbor Road tree a bit. You can see the bent-over shape and the broken branches.
The weather has also changed the shape of this Arbor Road tree a bit. You can see the bent-over shape and the broken branches. | Source
I believe brokenness gives trees more character. Arbor Road seems to be hard on trees, for this one lives there, too.
I believe brokenness gives trees more character. Arbor Road seems to be hard on trees, for this one lives there, too. | Source
This tree was the first I'd ever seen growing parallel to the ground. A friend told me this can happen when the wind blows a young tree down and it just continues to grow that way. This tree can be seen along the Union Road Wine Trail in Paso Robles.
This tree was the first I'd ever seen growing parallel to the ground. A friend told me this can happen when the wind blows a young tree down and it just continues to grow that way. This tree can be seen along the Union Road Wine Trail in Paso Robles. | Source
This small mishapen oak in the center is framed by the branches of a much larger cousin. This is another Arbor Road scene,
This small mishapen oak in the center is framed by the branches of a much larger cousin. This is another Arbor Road scene, | Source
Another Arbor Road Oak
Another Arbor Road Oak | Source
I love seeing the top of an oak against the sky. This one lives on Arbor Road, but you will find similar views almost anywhere in the rural parts of Paso Robles.
I love seeing the top of an oak against the sky. This one lives on Arbor Road, but you will find similar views almost anywhere in the rural parts of Paso Robles. | Source
I call this the dancing tree. It, too, lives on Arbor Road
I call this the dancing tree. It, too, lives on Arbor Road | Source
Oak in Templeton sunset.
Oak in Templeton sunset. | Source
This oak gave shade to visitors of the Veris Tasting Room on Bethel Road in Templeton while it was still open. Now the property has changed to a distillery.
This oak gave shade to visitors of the Veris Tasting Room on Bethel Road in Templeton while it was still open. Now the property has changed to a distillery. | Source
These oaks are some of many which line the streets of Bethel Road in Templeton between Highway 46 West and Las Tablas Road.
These oaks are some of many which line the streets of Bethel Road in Templeton between Highway 46 West and Las Tablas Road. | Source
This tree lives in a meadow near Pomar Junction Tasting Room and Vineyards. The picture was taken in August during the dry season.
This tree lives in a meadow near Pomar Junction Tasting Room and Vineyards. The picture was taken in August during the dry season. | Source
This was taken on El Pomar Road near Finley Family Farms in rural Templeton. It's proof that around almost every bend in the rural North County, you will find oaks.
This was taken on El Pomar Road near Finley Family Farms in rural Templeton. It's proof that around almost every bend in the rural North County, you will find oaks. | Source

North San Luis Obispo County is Full of Oak Trees

If you drive more than a mile on the on the streets or backroads of North San Luis Obispo County on the Central Coast of California, it's almost impossible not to see a vineyard or an oak tree. Every day as I drive the four miles home from town on Highway 46 West, I must pass over a hundred oak trees and several vineyards. It's hard to find a vineyard without at least one oak tree among the vines.

The oak trees were definitely here first. Some of them preceded the Spanish fathers who founded our California missions. California white oaks can live 400 years. Most of the trees you see here are probably California white oaks. They are deciduous, formidable skeletons once they lose their leaves, so they provide stark contrast to the winter skies.

Most of the trees pictured here live on Arbor Road. It begins from Highway 46 West by the Summerwood Tasting Room in Paso Robles (which, incidentally, means Pass of the Oaks) and goes north. Where it appears to dead-end, the paved road curves to the left and becomes Live Oaks. If you continue going straight, Arbor Road is unpaved most of the way to where it turns into Kiler Canyon Road, which ends in the north at First Street. The pictures were taken mostly on this unpaved extension of Arbor Road, except for the survivor tree in the sunset. It was taken near where Arbor and Live Oaks Roads meet. Don't forget to click on these pictures to see them full-size so you don't miss the details.


Learning More about Oak Trees in North America

Oaks of North America
Oaks of North America

This book is very good for information on the major oak species found in North America. For each species there are photographs of the whole tree, leaves, acorns, and bark. There is also a map showing the range of this species. The text describes the growth habit, the bark, the leaves, the fruit, the twigs and buds, the wood, and the range. I found this book a great help in identifying trees for purposes of this hub. It's a good field guide, even though the pictures are all in black and white.

 

Bethel and El Pomar Oak Trees

One road I visit often is Bethel Road in Templeton. Many vineyards and tasting rooms are located there, so there are many oak trees, including the first one at the top of this hub. Above, and to the right is one of my favorite oaks in front of the Veris tasting room. Veris also has a lovely rose garden near its patio for guests to enjoy. All around it are its vineyards. Part of Bethel Road itself is also lined with oaks, as you can see in the picture to the right.

These last two oaks live on El Pomar Road in Templeton. I visited the Pomar Junction Vineyard the first time the day I took them. The ride out there was quite scenic, and there were more oak trees than I could count. By now, you should know that is typical of North San Luis Obispo County. The oaks themselves should be listed as one of our major tourist attractions, but, since viewing them is free, they don't get much advertising. If you come for our Central Coast wines, though, seeing the oaks will be included in your experience at no extra cost.


I'd love to have your feedback here.

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    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for spending some time here with me, Denise. I appreciate your kind words.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      I love trees, and especially the Oak. I really enjoyed your photo gallery of these magnificent trees. Well written and wonderful resources you've added as well. Great job! voted up and awesome.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Audrey, I'm also partial to the broken trees, as you can probably tell. Oaks are a bit like old people, though they aren't as old as the redwoods. All of them make me feel pretty small and insignificant. Also young:)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      I love your photos of the broken trees. Nothing quite so inspiring as seeing a tree that is half gone still surviving....it is kinda sorta a life lesson in my humble opinion.

      Great photos and would love to see oak trees again. Marvelous old gnarly survivors they are....kinda like the 'old people of trees'.

      Voted up and many other things~

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      aethelthryth, that's funny, because I have trouble identifying the scrub oaks. I'm going to order some better field guides tonight. The live oaks are pretty easy to distinguish from the white oaks, but many of the oaks have hybridized and there may be different sorts of leaves and acorns on the same tree. Most field guide books don't delve into these. Also, the same variety may have different names. Makes life more interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

    • aethelthryth profile image

      aethelthryth 6 years ago from American Southwest

      I grew up where the local oaks were "scrub oaks". I know those very well, but only know real oaks when I see what I think of as "scrub oak leaves" on very tall trees. Thank you for teaching me more about these trees.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Peggy, Heart Hill has been a sort of local landmark for me ever since I moved to this area in 1993. The vineyard was planted and the tasting room built only a few short years ago. I don't know if the owners named it Heart Hill or if it was always called that. I never heard the name until the winery was built.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have a couple of live oaks and one water oak tree on our property. I liked all of your photos but found that one of Heart Hill fascinating. Amazing how the oak trees formed that perfect heart shape in the middle of the vineyard. You surely live in a pretty part of the country!

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      frogyfish, it's a shame to see an oak die. It seems they should go on forever. I love seeing them everywhere I go, and you are right. I do live to observe the seasonal changes. The white oaks are beginning to lose their leaves now, but are still far from bare. A storm is blowing in today, and I expect a lot more leaves will be lost. Thanks for stopping by.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      anginwu, we were supposed to explain the pictures. There is so much more that could have been said, because there is so much to learn about oaks. If only they could speak our language!

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

      I like observing the shapes of trees as I walk in the park. Your drive down 'oak lane' must bring something new to you each season.

      There is an ancient Live oak tree in NW Florida where I lived as a teen, that was huge when I lived there long ago. Visited it a few years back and it is evidently dying as it has few leaves in spring. Guessing it must be over a hundred years old: I did not know some oaks could live to 400 years. Thank you for sharing here!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Wow, what a collection of oak tree pictures. You have even written a very detailed hub about them. Awesome!

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Hyphenbird, majestic is an apt term for oaks, and many are also graceful. Rugged is another word that comes to mind. Thanks for stopping by.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      phdast7, Thank you. It was very hard choosing just these few from the hundreds of oak pictures I have taken, and every one is different.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Teri, how wonderful to have so many oaks on your own property! I don't know how old my one oak is, but I'd guess by its size it's at least a hundred years old. I hope your land will be able to stay in your family.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      They are so majestic and graceful. Thanks for a fascinating Hub. I love trees, flowers and Nature.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      The best pictures yet. I had no idea that there was so much variation in oak trees.

    • TeriSilver profile image

      Teri Silver 6 years ago from The Buckeye State

      Interesting article and well-written. I have several oak trees in my yard, one is well over 250 years old (my husband's family has owned the land we live on since 1832 and we've heard the stories passed down from his grandfather about the full grown oak from when gramps was a little boy). Yes, our tree is huge. Thumbs up!