Never been a better time to get out and have your own space. There are countless hiking options with breathtaking views within Monterey County just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for an easy coastal climb or a strenuous trek up a mountain, there’s something for every fitness level. Some procedures have changed to ensure the safety of hikers and visitors, but the stunning beauty of our local trails has stayed the same. As always, we recommend checking each individual website for the latest details on hours and operations.
1. Toro Park
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 foot elevation gain. Pick up a trail map at the park entrance, or refer to Monterey County Parks' online trail map for Toro Park. The entrance fee is $2 per person.
2. Jacks Peak County Park
Want a view without the extra effort? Jacks Peak in Monterey is 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.
3. Fort Ord National Monument
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.
4. Pinnacles National Park
Head inland and get your blood pumping at one of America’s newest National Parks. Pinnacles National Park offers a different type of experience with an array of activities including rock climbing, cave exploring and adventurous camping. Start your hike near the Visitors Center and take the Moses Spring Trail and Rim Trail. These trails offer a little taste of everything the park has to offer including jaunts through small caves and views of the Pinnacles, unique rock formations and spires. The entrance fee is $30 per vehicle, campsites are also available starting at $23.
5. Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail
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 for 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.
6. Garland Ranch Regional Park
If you're looking for a dog-friendly hike in the Monterey area, this is the spot for you! This favorite hiking spot in Carmel Valley has some of the steepest trails in the area as well as glorious views and great wildlife. Garland Ranch’s extensive trails will give you views of a beautiful waterfall, the Santa Lucia Mountains and Monterey Bay. 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 views.
Just south of Carmel Highlands and Point Lobos Natural Reserve, from the highway, Garrapata State Park can seem like just a blip. Those who drive past on their way somewhere else are missing beautiful redwood-filled canyons and some of the most spectacular coastline Big Sur has to offer.
Keep an eye out for the Garrapata State Park sign, and then look for a large pullout (probably with several cars parked in it) 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 which reopened in April 2018. Admire the views along this out and back trail, but watch your footing. Soberanes Trail leads through beautiful redwood forests on its way back to Highway 1. See the Garrapata State Park online trail map for more information.