This guide is part of KCET's California Coastal Trail series, which looks at the state's massive undertaking to build a trail over 1,000 miles in length along its whole coastline.
One of the first counties created upon the establishment of California statehood in 1850, Monterey County offers an array of natural habitats to enjoy on foot. From a rugged coast adorned with pine trees to highlands hosting lush canyons and exceptional vistas, Monterey is a hiking destination like none other.
Below you'll find the following outstanding hiking options in Monterey County.
North Shore Trail
1.4 miles, Easy to Moderate
Ever dream of walking through a pine forest on the edge of some of the state’s most striking coastline? Start the trek at Whaler's Cove, head up the stone staircase, and begin the first of multiple sweeping ocean vistas. Pass through sparkling Bluefish cove on your way through a grove of gnarled Monterey cypress trees before ending up at Sea Lion Point, where you may find a few sun-bathing sea lions at trail's end. On the way back, pay a visit to Whaler’s Cabin, site of a whaling station dating back to 1862. Visit here for more information.
Bear Gulch Caves Trail
1.5 miles, Easy
Want to feel like a real explorer? Then set your sights on one of America’s newest national parks, Pinnacles National Park. Crowned with inimitable rock formations and cascading cliffs, Pinnacles has a lot going for it, including access to a number of fascinating caves on the 1.5 mile Bear Gulch Caves Trail. And to top it off, the sprawling and scenic Bear Gulch Reservoir offers respite from anyone needing to absorb a wide open space after venturing through the confines of the park's caves. Visit here for more information
Rocky Ridge and Soberanes Canyon Loop
7 miles, Moderate
Located in the highlands of Garrapata State Park, the Rocky Ridge and Soberanes Canyon Loop is a feast for the intrepid hiker. An initial steep climb from the cypress-lined trailhead on the side of Highway One soon rewards with unmatched coastal views. After passing through hillsides of elfin chaparral, descend into Soberanes Canyon and encounter a stock of verdant redwoods -- some that may even be old growth. This seven-mile hike ends back at the highway. Visit here for more information.