Winding along the Pacific coast, the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail (a.k.a. the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail and Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Trail) offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and a great way to tour the city while enjoying the outdoors. This wonderful coastal rail-trail currently extends 18 miles from Pacific Grove to Castroville and is regarded as one of the most scenic long trails in California.
The trail follows the former Southern Pacific Railroad line, which was once used to transfer goods between the historic fishing town of Monterey and the rest of northern California. Beginning in Pacific Grove at the Lovers Point Park (the southern end of the trail), you will want to take a picture of the beautiful rocky shoreline to the west. But don't put your camera away yetthe beautiful views continue, and there are many photo opportunities along the trail of beach scenes, otters, boats, kayakers and more.
After 0.3 mile you come to a mural portraying the history of the area around the trail. About a mile from the northern end, you reach Cannery Row. Made famous by John Steinbeck, this area offers many restaurants, as well as shopping, lodging and entertainment for all ages.
After a string of street crossings, you arrive at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Recognized as one of the best in the world, the aquarium exhibits a wide array of sea creatures, from a giant octopus to nearly two dozen species of shark. Just beyond the aquarium, roughly 1.5 miles into the journey, you reach Fisherman's Shoreline Park and San Carlos Beach. San Carlos is a popular destination for diving, and you might see some shore divers preparing for an underwater adventure. The trail continues toward a smaller beach, where you can view sailing and fishing boats scattered throughout the bay.
At the 2-mile mark you come to Fisherman's Wharf, with its restaurants, shops and great views of the ocean. The wharf is probably the most popular destination on the trail because of its location, scenery and historical displays, including several generations of fishing craft.
Beyond the wharf, the pathway runs close to the usually busy Del Monte Road. But the scene soon changes as you enter the southern end of the trail. You come to Monterey State Beach, with its impressive sand dunes and, farther down the trail, a eucalyptus forest that separates the trail from the road.
The next few miles become a bit more commercial as the trail follows the coastline toward the shopping centers at Seaside and a few more miles to the city of Marina. It's another 8 miles to the trail's end in Castroville. You can either ride back the way you came, or arrange a shuttle beforehand in Castroville.
At the Pacific Grove end (south), the trail continues on-road for cyclists to Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Pacific Grove trailhead from Highway 1: Take the Del Monte Avenue (402B) Exit toward Pacific Grove. Travel 2 miles west on Del Monte Avenue, then veer right onto Lighthouse Avenue. Continue on Lighthouse Avenue for 1.4 miles, turn right on David Avenue and soon after turn left on Ocean View Boulevard. Continue for 1 mile to Jewell Avenue. The trailhead is near the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Jewell Avenue. You can either park in the paid lot at the trailhead or look for street parking nearby.