Poly Canyon (the last hike, ftw)

struggle graffiti
Breaking my arm at the end of August (and truthfully, it was the most tiniest of breaks) really threw my hiking trips for a loop. In fact, I resisted hiking and I really resisted taking photos with a “real” camera. I didn’t see it when I was in the middle of it, but it’s quite obvious looking back. My body and/or psyche just wanted none of it.
the sign showing the structures
I went two weeks without hiking and I gave myself a pass on this, deciding to do two make-up hikes as soon as possible. To me, I still reached my goal.
looking back at the structures
The last hike was Cal Poly’s Poly Canyon/Design Village. And, again with the “resisting” theme—I didn’t take one (not one!) photo on the very last hike of the goal. Talk about anti-climatic. I went back a week later, did the whole hike all over again and took photos.
this cool weird structure
The good part of this hike was that I did it with two new friends, Matt and Robin. They both recently moved to California (Matt from Pennsylvania, Robin from Utah) and began working at Cal Poly. It was really fun to go on this hike with two new transplants and point out things and share information.
graffiti inside the structure (faces with glasses)
The bad part of the hike was all the brown. We are so dry here on the Central Coast. Rumor has it that Phoenix (PHOENIX!) got more rain than we did last year. We are so dry that even the air feels brittle. Everything is a shade of faded yellow, faded tan, faded beige. Washed out. Sun parched.
graffiti of a bug or an alien or an alien bug
The lucky part: having a hike like this just minutes from my desk at work. Seeing hawks and horses. An easy hike to squeeze in to any busy day.
Looking out at the dry hills
See all the photos from this hike in a slide show (or on Flickr).

me, last hike

Poly Canyon | Week 11 | Peak a Week

Poly Canyon

Poly Canyon is part of the Cal Poly campus and consists mostly of a nicely maintained road lined with oaks, sycamores and chaparral, following a creek path on its north side. Towards the end of the road is the Design Village, a space where architecture students go out to build experimental structures. Each spring the space comes alive with new buildings, sculptures and other cool projects, but for the most part they come down at the end of April.

Some structures are more permanent and you can walk up to them, though are encouraged not to enter with “No trespassing!” signs and warnings of surveillance cameras. With the amount of graffiti inside, it seems as though not many follow the instructions.

Lovely walk and cool buildings. We spent much longer out there than we expected. Overall hike/walk is about 2.5 miles.

This spring/early summer there have been numerous mountain lion and rattlesnake sightings. Maybe because it is hotter and dryer than usual? This is the entrance to the area.


Hotter and dryer seems to work in the favor of poison oak, too. Look at that massive outcrop (it’s the red bit). Yikes!

poison oak

Still patches of flowers to be found.


Off the side of the road is the entrance to the Design Village.

Design Village arch

And a map of the different structures.

the route

The geodesic dome is cool and has an amphitheater inside. I think this would be a great place to bring your lunch during the work day if you work at Cal Poly.

geodesic dome

This structure echoes the dome motif, but obviously isn’t geodesic. More outerspace-ic. Ruin-ic. Cooleriffic. Mustardtastic.

spider building

The Shell House was my favorite and suffered the most from graffiti. Too bad. I vote for a Senior Project to clean it up. In fact, I thought it would be interesting to have senior projects to fix up several of the structures that seem to be headed for ruin.

Shell House

The inside of the Shell House. You can walk up stairs to a second floor. Someone did while we were there and my questions were “are you sure those are stairs and not shelves?” and “Are you sure that’s safe?” I kept my questions to myself.

Inside the Shell House

I am a sucker for a house that plays well with its natural landscape. Love this.

Another view of the shell house

Not sure of the name of this house, but I loved the stove pipes.



The sign to this structure said “Residential House” and it was unclear — did someone actually live in it? It seems like they could. The back side had a great metal-sign collage siding. Loved it. We didn’t linger, though, because it did feel as if we were in someone’s space although you couldn’t really tell if it was inhabited or not.

residential house

The beginning of June means the last green holdouts on the hillsides are losing their fight. Soon it will be all golden, all tan, all brown. All dusty. This last little bit of green was nice to see. (It was a nice, lush green run this year, I think.)

last of the green

More structures from the trail.

view from the trail

This cantilevered structure was really cool. I couldn’t find a name for it (I’ll have to pay more attention to signs next time I’m up there.). An abandoned pirate’s ship… in the middle of a sea of wild grass.

like a pirate ship

oak tree