OSO FLACO LAKE, Calif. - So close, yet so far away. It's the best way to describe Oso Flaco Lake for those who live on the Central Coast.
"This is California's gold," said Guadalupe resident Joel Wooldridge. "Where else do get a place to visit like this, or to hang out? Just breathtaking!"
Located just a couple of miles north of Guadalupe, the 75-acre lake is officially known as Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area State Park.
Oso Flaco Lake is also home to not just one lake, but two, including the smaller Little Oso Flaco Lake, which sits just yards to the south.
"It's gorgeous," said Barbara Shrum of Grover Beach. "You go through the agricultural fields and there's so many people that don't even know that it's out here. It's definitely a treasure of the Central Coast."
For those that travel to the lake, they will enjoy a beautiful, comfortable walk on a picturesque boardwalk that takes visitors literally across the water.
"It's such an easy walk because they have this beautiful boardwalk the whole way out there really," said Doreen Gardner of Morro Bay. "We're lucky to have something like this."
Measuring nearly two miles, the boardwalk allows visitors to experience different ecosystems, before it ends on the Oceano Dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
"Just a spectacular place to visit," said Wooldridge. "Where else can you visit a beach area where you don't see anyone? That's priceless."
Oso Flaco Lake is home to a diverse array of plant and wildlife. In particular, visitors will encounter numerous types of birds.
"During the year, migrating birds make an appearance here," said Dunes Center Hike Leader Jim Avila. "Right now, we're seeing some swallows, quite a few ducks, some loons, pelicans, California least turn, there's quite a variety."
Along the hike, there are several helpful informational signs to assist hikers to identify the different plants and animals in the area.
There are also several benches along the trail, which also includes a picnic area in the dunes section.
"With just a little bit of effort, you can get out here and into the fresh air and just spend a couple of hours," said Gardner. "It sets the stage for a beautiful weekend."
Hikers can enjoy the lake on their own with self-guided tours, or through several different events held occasionally by the Dunes Center in Guadalupe.
"The Dunes Center is allowed to do projects here, to do cleaning up and vegetation and they maintain the boardwalk itself," said Avila. "This is an educational opportunity for the Dunes Center."
It's an opportunity that can be enjoyed by those of all ages.
"It's definitely for everybody," said Shrum. "Take your family out here. Take your grandparents out here and take everybody out here, it's just a show to see and experience and you won't be unhappy. You will see something."
Oso Flaco Lake trail is open sunrise to sunset. There is a $5 fee for parking.