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The Best Hikes in Monterey to Trek Year-Round

The Best Hikes in Monterey to Trek Year-Round

By California.com
December 23, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe. 

Home to magical forests, graceful waterfalls, and old-growth redwood groves, Monterey Bay is a Golden State gem just waiting to be explored. Adventurous souls and nature lovers call this place heaven on earth—scenic drives complement the area’s natural wonders and captivate the curious minds of Californians. It’s undeniable that the best way to see Monterey is on foot. 

As one of the best Central Coast destinations in California, Monterey has an abundance of trails that take you to dramatic points with unparalleled views of the coast. Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, gear up with your outdoor workout clothes and check out the best hikes in Monterey

The Awe-Inspiring Monterey Hikes To Take Next

Trek the Skyline Trail through majestic Jacks Peak Park and be rewarded with breathtaking views.

Skyline Trail

Location: 25020 Jacks Peak Park Road, Monterey

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.8 mile

Time: 25 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes, on-leash

Jacks Peak Park is one of the coolest places to hike in Monterey. The Skyline Trail is the most rewarding hike here—the self-guided path features impressive views and is primarily used for nature trips and bird watching. The short hike leads you to the park’s main feature: Jacks Peak, which rises 1,068 feet above Monterey and Carmel. The peak is the highest point on the Monterey Peninsula.

Garland Ranch Waterfall Trail

Location: 700 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley

Difficulty: Moderate 

Distance: 2.1 miles

Time: 1 hour

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes

Looking for an unforgettable Central Coast activity? Hiking the Garland Ranch Waterfall Trail is a memorable experience that’s just enough of a climb to feel like a workout. The path takes you through an oak forest and up a mountain towards a waterfall that’s best viewed after rainfall. This is one of the best Monterey hiking trails because it’s accessible year-round and your four-legged friend is welcome to join you. 

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The Best Hikes Near Monterey

If there's ever a trail you must traverse, it's the McWay Falls Trail. The view of the gorgeous waterfall makes the hike more than worthwhile.

McWay Falls Trail

Location: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur 

Difficulty: Easy 

Distance: 1.1 miles

Time: 30 minutes

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No

There are only two tide falls in the Golden State: McWay Falls and Alamere Falls, and you can see the former by trekking the McWay Falls Trail. This path to the famed waterfall is one of the best hikes near Monterey. Who wouldn’t want to feast their eyes on such a magnificent natural wonder? The short and easy trail guides you to the breathtaking sight—different hues of blue vibrantly explode before your eyes. As the 80-foot-tall waterfall drops straight into the ocean, this can’t-miss Central Coast spot rejuvenates your body and soul. 

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is all about the gorgeous vistas. Lace-up your hiking boots, because it's time to go exploring.

Point Lobos Loop Trail

Location: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel-by-the-Sea 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Distance: 6.7 miles

Time: 2–3 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No

If you’re looking for an outdoor experience where you’ll get to see the best parts of the California coastline, Point Lobos Loop Trail has you covered. Stroll along this wonderful path within the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve to observe barking sea lions, chattering shorebirds, resting sea otters, and breathtaking geological formations.

If you spot tide pools with crabs along your way, don’t hesitate to explore the pockets of water and discover the magic of the ocean. Hiking near Monterey has never been better. 

As you traverse this exciting trail, admire the unique rock formations found throughout Pinnacles National Park.

Condor Gulch Trail to High Peaks Trail Loop

Location: Pinnacles National Park, Soledad

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 5.4 miles

Time: 3–4 hours

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: No

The Condor Gulch Trail to High Peaks Trail Loop is one of the most amazing hikes near Monterey. The rock formations surrounding the path are unlike any other geological structures you’ll ever see. With caves and treacherous stairs along the way, this hiking trail is full of surprises and adventures. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the rare California condors, which will make your experience even more memorable. 


Dog-Friendly Hikes in Monterey County

Spend your day right and go for a hike in beautiful Pebble Beach with your best friend.

Pebble Beach Cruise

Location: 1700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 6.8 miles

Time: 2–3 hours

Route: Point to point

Dogs allowed: Yes 

Pebble Beach Cruise is a panoramic Monterey Bay hike with dramatic views of Pebble Beach and the 17-Mile Drive. Accessible to hikers year-round, the point-to-point trail is generally used for birding, road biking, and (naturally) scenic drives. This dog-friendly hike in Monterey is an unforgettable experience—we guarantee that your furry little friend will be just as excited as you are when exploring the route.  

Huckleberry Hill Loop Trail

Location: 1200 Veterans Drive, Monterey

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.9 miles

Time: 30–40 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes 

The forested hills of Monterey provide numerous hiking opportunities, but it’s hard to beat Veteran’s Memorial Park. This expansive Monterey park is home to the Huckleberry Hill Loop Trail, a wonderful day hike for nature lovers. Surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers, the path has moderately steep parts to challenge hikers every now and then. This dog-friendly hike in Monterey also has scenic routes that boast incredible views. 

Earl Moser Trail Loop

Location: 25020 Jacks Peak Park Road, Monterey

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.8 miles

Time: 20–40 minutes

Route: Loop

Dogs allowed: Yes 

Earl Moser Trail Loop is yet another Jacks Peak Park hike that allows you to spend quality time in nature with your four-legged friend. Shared by hikers, dog-walkers, and joggers, the well-maintained trail is perfect for a quick stroll; the crisp coastal air will reinvigorate your soul. Spring is the perfect season to hike this trail—vibrant wildflowers emerge from the soil and complement the park’s natural beauty. As one of the best hikes in Monterey, Earl Moser Trail Loop definitely deserves a spot on your bucket list. 


Beautiful Monterey Bay Hikes

Hike the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail to marvel at the beauty of the coast and breathe in the crisp air.

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

Location: 631 Ocean View Boulevard, Pacific Grove

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 6.8 miles

Time: 2–3 hours

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: On leash

The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is perhaps the most scenic hike you’ll ever go on. The crystal-clear waters reflect the beauty of the coast as you inhale the crisp air—the experience is as refreshing as it gets. The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail meanders back and forth through the rugged landscape and offers several side trails that are just waiting to be explored. Hiking here is basically meditating; your body and soul will thank you.

Unwind to the melodic sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline as you hike this majestic trail.

Spanish Bay Trail

Location: Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.8 miles

Time: 40 minutes–1 hour

Route: Out and back

Dogs allowed: No

Strolling beside the beach and listening to the waves race to the shore is as magical as it gets. Californians are fortunate enough to experience exactly that while trekking the Spanish Bay Trail. While the turquoise waters of the ocean transform to seafoam at the shoreline, the fresh air breathes new life into your body. As you progress along the path, gorgeous wildflowers harmonize with the surrounding rocks and the sands below. This memorable Monterey hiking trail is precisely what’s missing from your life. 

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