There is no better way to appreciate the sheer grandeur of Monterey County's glorious shoreline and beaches, spectacular parks, and exceptional outdoor adventures than by hiking in Monterey. Whether you're looking for an easy costal climb or a challenging trek up a mountain, the area offers hiking trails for all levels and abilities. Read below for the top Monterey hikes:
Garrapata State Park is easy to miss from the highway, and those who drive past on their way somewhere else are missing redwood-filled canyons and some of the most spectacular coastline Big Sur has to offer. Just south of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, keep an eye out for the "Garrapata State Park" sign, and then look for a large pullout under a row of cypresses. You'll see a dirt road, and beyond it, a tin barn. This is the trailhead for the 1.25 mile Soberanes Canyon Trail. This coastal gem is one of the most breathtaking of all Monterey hikes. See the Garrapata State Park trail map for more info.
Garland Ranch Regional Park is a picturesque spot for hiking, home to a variety of scenic landscapes and extensive trails varying from easy to strenuous, with views of a waterfall, the Santa Lucia Mountains, and the Monterey Bay. And if you've got a dog-friendly hike in the Monterey area, this is the spot for you! Take Snively’s Ridge Trail, which is sure to take your breath away in more ways than one, with thigh-burning grades leading up to panoramic vistas. Explore the Garland Ranch's trail map.
Monterey County's only national park is a California gem not-to-be-missed. Pinnacles offers an array of activities for the outdoor adventures, including rock climbing, cave exploring, and camping. Start your hike near the Visitors Center and take the Moses Spring Trail and Rim Trail for a little taste of everything the park has to offer, including views of the unique rock formations and spires that are the "Pinnacles." You won't regret climbing the popular High Peaks Trail once you get a sight of the spectacular vistas from the top.
The entrance fee is $30 per vehicle, campsites are also available starting at $23.
For a strenuous climb with a great view, try Toro Park's Ollason Peak. It provides sweeping views of Monterey Bay and the Salinas Valley, and in the right season, colorful wildflowers abound. Make sure you've packed plenty of water, sunblock and comfortable boots: This very sunny nine-mile hike has an 1800 ft. elevation gain. Pick up a trail map at the park entrance, or refer to Monterey County Parks' online map for Toro Park. The entrance fee is $2 per person.
Hiking in Monterey doesn't get much better than Jacks Peak, a perfect destination for those looking for an easy stroll or just an incredible backdrop to a packed picnic. Try the Skyline Nature Trail for a leisurely walk and sweeping views of Monterey Bay, Carmel Valley, and Point Lobos. Be sure to take a look at the display case at the start of the trail for an array of fossils found in the area. The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle.
MARINA, SEASIDE & SALINAS
With over 83 miles of trails, Fort Ord National Monument, spanning through Marina, Seaside, and Salinas, is a hiker’s paradise! Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk and run through a range of environments, from grassy hills to coastal shrubland. Take the Badger Hills Trailhead from the Salinas entrance off of Highway 68 for wide-open trails through rolling green hills leading up to stunning views of Monterey Bay and Salinas Valley.
CASTROVILLE TO PACIFIC GROVE
This isn’t your typical hike! The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is a must-see whether you choose to explore it by foot or bike. The 18-mile trail stretches all the way from Castroville to Pacific Grove, with the 2-mile section between Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Lovers Point being the most popular. This paved and flat road is only open to pedestrians and bikes, making it the perfect way to fully soak in the views. If you’re up for a longer trip, head down to Asilomar State Beach for white sandy beaches, crashing waves, and tide pools.
Restaurants & Lodging
When the day is done, and the trails have come to an end, good food and great relaxation can be found here. No matter what you're craving, explore the restaurants (+ wineries & breweries–you've earned it!) in Monterey County. Staying the night to tackle more Monterey hikes over a couple of days? Find your home away from home at hotels, motels, B&Bs, or charming Inns.