The coast around Monterey Bay in Northern California is a uniquely picturesque area that is coveted by visitors, and is a source of pride for residents. One of the best ways to experience it is by walking the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, almost 20 miles of paved 2-lane trail that hugs the Monterey Peninsula from Pacific Grove to Castroville. Home of Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, much of the trail leads you and your pooch through pristine beach areas, parks and along rocky coastline.
Southern access to the trail is in Pacific Grove where Jewell Avenue and Ocean Boulevard meet near Lovers Point Park. There is paid parking here, but hikers can generally find free street parking as well. You'll be sharing the path with skaters and bicyclists, and the trail is divided into two-way traffic. In some busier spots, a separate cement walking trail flows along the asphalt biking trail.
One of the attractions of this trail are the magnificent wildflowers growing near it, including hibiscus and ground-covering periwinkle, among others. Wildlife is abundant too: in the harbors and marinas, and on the rocks and beaches, you'll find otters, seals and sea lions, sea birds and occasionally a whale breaching far out in the Bay. Have a sit on one of the many benches and watch the fog bank hovering offshore as it moves closer at the end of the day, like a gray wall creeping up on the shore.
If you're in the mood for a short side trip that will reward you with a leash-free romp on the beach and in the surf, start your hike west around the Monterey Peninsula Trail for about a mile to Asilomar State Beach and wend your way down among the scattered boulders to the shoreline. Woofderful!
This trail is relatively flat except for a short segment with a steep climb as the tail passes over the dunes between Monterey and Seaside. If you're hungry, stop in Monterey for a deli meal at the old train depot that has an outdoor table waiting for you and Fido!
This trail is a gem in Northern California's system of trails and parks, pawrfect for anyone of any skill level, including your fur-buddy!
There are several busy intersection crossings on this trail. Some segments are so near the ocean that waves occasionally wash over the trail. Watch for these spots to avoid getting wet.