Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

Fort Ord Dunes State Park, California

Elevation Gain856ft
Trailhead Elevation32ft
Elevation Min/Max21/163ft
Elevation Start/End32/32ft

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Monterey County, California. It is within Fishermans Shoreline Park, Roberts Lake Park, Perkins Park, Shoreline Park, Fort Ord Dunes State Park, and Monterey State Historic Park. It is 14.6 miles long and begins at 32 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 16.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 856 feet. Near the trailhead there are a beach and parkings. The Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum (elevation 23 feet), Steinbeck Museum (elevation 59 feet), Museum of Monterey, and Pacific House museums, Aeneas Beach (elevation 3 feet), San Carlos Beach (elevation 10 feet), Monterey State Beach, Monterey State Beach, and other beaches, Whaling Station and Sardine Factory Parking and other parkings, Beacon, 76, 7 Eleven, Valero, and another fuel, the Marina Post Office (disused?) (elevation 49 feet) post office, the Papa Chevo's Taco Shop, Take and Bake Pizza, Round Table Pizza, Jack In The Box, and Burger King fast foods, Parking for The Clement Monterey and another parking, the Pay Station information, the Pressed cafe, the Monterey Mirror Maze attraction, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium can be seen along the trail. There are also a restaurant, benches, parkings, fountains, an ice cream, and a bicycle parking along the trail.

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail follows the beautiful rocky coastline along the blufftop in Pacific Grove. The trail threads through several parks en route to the northern tip of Pacific Grove, passing dramatic rock formations, tide-pools, small beach coves and overlooks. The waters surrounding the peninsula are part of the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Fish Refuge, a national marine sanctuary."

"The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail stretches 18 miles from Castroville to Pacific Grove. The paved path follows the coast along the abandoned Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way. The old railroad was transformed into this popular hiking, biking, and jogging trail in 1986.This hike follows the beautiful rocky coastline along the blufftop in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. Beginning at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the trail threads through sev- eral parks en route to the northern tip of Pacific Grove at Point Pinos. Parklands surround the entire peninsula on the coastal side of Ocean View Boulevard, which parallels the trail. The coastal route passes dramatic rock formations, tidepools, small beach coves, and overlooks. The waters surrounding the peninsula are part of the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Fish Refuge, a national marine sanctuary."

"Monterey State Beach takes in two separate plots of land on a continuous stretch of beach. The southern unit, known locally as “Windows on the Bay,“ is a narrow, 1 4-acre beach extending east from Monterey’s Wharf #2. The pier was built in 1 870 for com- mercial fishing and is now a popular tourist spot with restaurants and shops."

"Although dogs must be on leash until you reach Asilomar State Beach, this flat coastline trail with stunning scenery, tide pools, beaches, and picnic sites is a gem worth sharing with pooch for as short or long a hike as he’s up to."

"The natural beauty of the bay and peninsula led to the development of tourism in the late nineteenth century. Tourism is now Monterey’s leading industry, and the city has an abundance of superior accommodations and superb restaurants to serve its many visitors— something for everyone’s budget and appetite. Next door is Monterey’s sister city, Pacific Grove—a late bloomer, but charming nonetheless. Founded in 1875 as a Methodist retreat, it stayed straitlaced for nearly a century, prohibiting the sale of alcohol within city limits, except for medicinal purposes, until 1969. Reminders of Pacific Grove’s Victorian past are everywhere, including more than 250 houses built before 1910. A number of these handsome structures are now bed-and-breakfast inns. Tourists aren’t the only ones drawn regularly to the pleasant climate and tranquility of Pacific Grove. Monarch butterflies begin arriving in October and overwinter in the groves of Monterey cypress, Monterey pine, and eucalyptus trees. This eTrail includes information on lodging, campgrounds, RV parks, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, and outdoor activities near these coastal cities."

"The Monterey Peninsula, 125 miles south of San Francisco, is a scenic stretch of coastline, pine forests, and unmistakable California élan. This spit of land is surrounded by Monterey Bay on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, and Carmel Bay on the south. Waves crash with a fierce splendor on these rocky shores, and colonies of sea lions sunbathe on the flat tops of boulders. A state park makes it easy and affordable for families to savor the views. Golf is revered, and there’s no shortage of trendy shopping in the upscale boutiques of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The region’s towns, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Carmel in the Valley, offer a variety of accommodations and sites. The first documentation of the area is in 1542, when Don Juan Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer, came in search of California’s riches. Neither he nor his crew set foot on land here, but he is credited with being the first European to anchor in “La Bahia de los Pinos” (the Bay of the Pines). Sixty years passed before Sebastian Vizcaino, in 1602, landed on the peninsula, which he named after the Count de Monte Rey, the Spanish merchant under whose orders he was sailing. By 1777 Monterey was the capital of Alta (upper) and Baja (lower) California. When Mexico revolted from Spain about forty-five years later, in 1822, Monterey became the capital of Mexico. Commodore John Drake Sloat ended years of territorial disputes between Mexico and the United States, when in 1846, he arrived in Monterey and hoisted the American flag over the Custom House. In 1849 California was admitted to the Union. Monterey maintained its seafaring roots and grew from a quaint fishing village into a city recognized for its fish processing and canning. The Monterey canneries became a household name with the publication of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. This eTrail is one complete vacation written with families in mind. It’s loaded with exciting things to do, family-friendly places to lodge and dine, recommended side trips, local sources of information, and detailed travel directions."

"The completely paved, 14.7-mile Monterey Recreational Trail (29.4-mile round-trip) is the jewel of the towns of Pacific Grove, Monterey, Sand City, Seaside, and Marina. Enjoyed by riders of all ages and abilities, it’s an immensely popular path that hugs the gorgeous Monterey Bay shoreline, 95% of it being Class 1, that is, a path that’s completely separated from vehicle roads."

"In a state that abounds with superb scenic attractions, the Monterey Peninsula stands at the head of the list, along with Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Mount Shasta. The beauty of Point Lobos has been called “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world,” by landscape artist Francis McComas. Because of its attractiveness, the area often abounds with tourists, and if there is a festival or golf tournament under way it may be impossible to get a motel reservation or campsite. It is wise to check ahead and to make reservations as far in advance as possible. Specialty birds: Resident—Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants; Black Oystercatcher; Band-tailed Pigeon; Hutton’s Vireo; Steller’s Jay; Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Pygmy Nuthatch; Wrentit; Tricolored Blackbird. Summer—Black-footed Albatross, Brown Pelican, Heermann’s Gull, Elegant Tern, Pigeon Guillemot, Allen’s Hummingbird, Violet-green Swallow. Winter—Pacific Loon; Western and Clark’s Grebes; Laysan Albatross; Short-tailed and Black-vented Shearwaters; Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel; Harlequin Duck; Wandering Tattler; Black Turnstone; Surfbird; Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls; Ancient Murrelet; Rhinoceros Auklet; Townsend’s Warbler. Migrant or postbreeding visitor—Pink-footed, Fleshfooted, and Buller’s Shearwaters; Ashy, Black, and Least Storm-Petrels; Sabine’s Gull; Xantus’s and Craveri’s Murrelets; Cassin’s Auklet. This eTrail provides detailed information on birding strategies for this specific location, the specialty birds and other key birds you might see, directions to each birding spot, a detailed map, and helpful general information."

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail Reviews

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There really is not a prettier stretch of coast line in all of Northern / Central California. I will argue with you late into the evening about this as this trail, which starts right behind the Aquarium and leads all the way out to Lucas Point, is an experience worth checking out. You basically stroll down a paved (very easy / no elevation) trail and just gaze the entire time. This is literally right on the coast (very reminiscent of Half Moon Bay's Coastal Trail) and it is one gorgeous view after another. The reason this trail gets only four out of five stars from me is because of the people. The beauty of the Monterey Coastline is no secret and therefore there are scores and scores of people all over with really no chance in any direction of breaking free for a moment's peace. However, get past that point and you can see seals, sea otters, birds of all kinds, whales (if you are lucky -- which we glimpsed ever so quickly), and just about any other species known to live on the coast. This is one to see and experience because it provides a good solid 5 mile walk with incredible knock-you-over views.

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Fort Ord Dunes State Park
Nearby City
Monterey State Historic Park
Skill Level
Contact information for all attractions is provided in the eTrail.
Local Contacts
USGS: Monterey
Local Maps