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Best Central Coast Running Trails in California
Health & Fitness

Best Central Coast Running Trails in California

Enjoy the beautiful California weather and hit your fitness goals at one of these great Central Coast running trails. Team


2 min read

June 26, 2023

The Central Coast of California is home to some of the most scenic landscapes in the United States. Its diverse topography, from rugged mountains and serene beaches to picturesque vineyards and expansive deserts, provides an incredible array of running trails. Here, we'll explore some of the best running trails the Central Coast has to offer, promising not just a vigorous exercise but a feast for the eyes.

Montana De Oro State Park

The Montana De Oro State Park, located in San Luis Obispo, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With over 8,000 acres of rugged cliffs, secluded beaches, coastal plains, streams, and canyons, it is an ideal place for trail running. The Bluff Trail, a 4.6-mile round-trip trail, is a runner's favorite. It offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and rugged coastline, with occasional sightings of sea otters and seals frolicking in the waves. The terrain is not particularly challenging, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced runners seeking a scenic run.

Montana De Oro State Park is a shining highlight of the Central Coast that must be visited.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Near the southern tip of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a gem on the Central Coast. With a network of trails winding through meadows, alongside dramatic cliffs, and under the cover of fragrant pine forests, it’s hard to find a more varied or beautiful place to run. The 7.8-mile loop through the South Plateau, Cypress Grove, and North Shore trails offers breathtaking ocean views and a chance to spot whales during migration season.

As a popular destination with tons of trails, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a perfect location to get a run in.

Andrew Molera State Park

Situated in the heart of Big Sur, Andrew Molera State Park offers trails that cut through meadows, beaches, and hills, providing runners with a diverse range of scenery and topography. The 8.4-mile Andrew Molera Loop is an excellent choice for runners who want a bit of everything. The loop offers views of the Big Sur River, the Santa Lucia Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, making it a picturesque and diverse route for runners to enjoy.

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Harmony Headlands State Park

For those looking to escape the crowd, Harmony Headlands State Park is a hidden treasure located halfway between Morro Bay and Cambria. The park features a 4.5-mile out-and-back trail, perfect for a serene and tranquil run. The trail weaves through rolling grasslands before opening up to a dramatic view of the rugged coastline. This peaceful trail provides an ideal setting for runners seeking solitude and resplendent natural beauty.

Enjoy some remarkable, unmatched views while running in Harmony Headlands State Park.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

Located in the quaint seaside village of Cambria, Fiscalini Ranch Preserve offers one of the most enchanting coastal running experiences on the Central Coast. The 3.5-mile Bluff Trail, flanked by Monterey pines on one side and the expansive Pacific Ocean on the other, provides a flat and easy run. The Preserve's network of trails also allows for more challenging runs, featuring the steep inclines of the Marine Terrace Trail.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is another popular destination for local Central Coast runners looking to get their miles in.

From serene beachfront paths to rugged mountain trails, California's Central Coast offers something for every runner. Each trail presents its unique blend of natural beauty and challenge, promising an invigorating exercise and a memorable experience. So whether you're a seasoned trail runner or just beginning your journey, make sure to add these Central Coast gems to your list. Your running shoes and your soul will thank you.

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