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Winding along the Pacific coast, the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and a great way to tour Monterey and adjacent communities 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 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 yet—the 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 Avenue. But the scene soon changes as you continue north. 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 Sand City and a few more miles to the city of Marina. Between the two, the Beach Range Road Multi-Use Trail offers a parallel route as it passes through Fort Ord Dunes State Park. The new park, established in 2009, preserves the coastal areas of the former Fort Ord Army post.
From Marina, it's another 8 miles to the trail's end in Castroville, famous for its artichokes, artichoke festival and Artichoke Queens. You can either ride back the way you came, or arrange a shuttle beforehand in Castroville.
To reach the Pacific Grove trailhead from State Route 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.
I rode part of this trail last week, from Pacific Grove up to the town of Seaside. It is quite scenic, in spots, but you also ride through some urban congestion and cross a number of busy intersections. It's also not very well marked. I got some advice from Adventures By the Sea, an outfitter located at the beginning of the trail, that was very helpful given the relative lack of signage. Maybe this trail gets quieter and more protected from traffic as you get further from Monterey, but I decided to turn around and ride part of the 17 Mile Drive instead when I hit the busy intersection at Seaside. If I try it again, I think I'd rather start in Castroville, at the northern end, and ride south.
Whenever we visit the Monterey Peninsula, we always make sure to ride our bikes or walk multiple times on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. Very few places in the world can match the beauty and splendor of this trail, especially between Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove to the Wharf in Monterey. This portion of the trail is most certainly perfect for visitors and walking enthusiasts.
Beyond the wharf up to Castroville (the Artichoke Capital of the World) is for individuals looking for a much more intense workout.
If I lived on the peninsula, I'd be somewhere on that trail every day!
We rode this in two sections.
First section started at Casa Verde Way and rode North to the intersection of Lapis Road and Hwy 1. Missed the first left turn to go over dunes (no directional signage) and after a short distance realized we needed to back track. Then at Lapis Road & Hwy 1 the trail appeared to end at this intersection (no directional signage), could have explored down the highway at little to find remainder of trail but by then had ridden about 15 miles, so called it at that point. We did divert off of this trail to ride the parallel Beach Range Road trail in Fort Ord Dunes State Park. That road is much wider and nicer to ride. Depending how long of ride you want but recommend ending at the North end of Beach Range Road and then return.
Second Section: Started again at Casa Verde Way heading south to end of trail at Lovers Point and return. This portion of trail has many more walkers and bikers but trail is wide enough for all and in very good condition. This portion has some great scenery, a number of interpretive signs along the way, stopped to watch the Harbor Seals at a number of stops. Highly recommend this portion of trail.
I was traveling north on Highway 1 when my artist's eye led me down to the beach. The beauty of the white sand beach and wind swept trees prompted me to pitch my tent and make a painting. It is truly a beautiful place and urge people to come see this place themselves.
I parked in Sand City to start my ride, I used the Costco parking lot, I wouldn't do that again. Instead I would start near Lovers Point, there is lots of free parking either along the road or various pullouts just past it, then head back towards monterey. The most spectacular part of the ride was heading south along the road with a great bike lane all the way to Pebble beach and 17 mile drive. The Ocean views are breathtaking!!
This bike ride blows away anything down in SoCal, by a long shot. The views are simply stunning, from end to end. My ride began in Marina, CA at Reservation Road. Once you cross the fence just under Highway 1....the fun begins. Heading south through rolling sand dunes, I saw very little to no mid-morning foot or bike traffic, until I reached the Seaside/Monterey boundary, at Dennis the Menace Park. Lots of shade and room to stop and take-in the fresh coastal breeze. The trail continues just behind crowded Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row. The wide, double-lanes makes it easy to pass and avoid the obvious foot tourists. The trail technically "ends" in Pacific Grove, at Lover's Point - but I continued on the road, via Ocean View Blvd, to Asilomar(Sunset Drive).
My wife is a beginning rider and other than a little apprehension with the slight inclines and declines she did great!!
The trail is very well kept with slight inclines here and there surrounded by great restaurants and shops (The Old Wharf and Cannery Row) with one of the most beautiful views of the ocean that you'll ever see. I had a hard time figuring out how to find parking from THIS site, but once I MapQuested "Monterey Bay Coastal Trail" I was able to stumble across some parking while following the MapQuest's navigation. It's a little over an hour drive for us and we can't wait to go back...tomorrow in fact!! :)
Difficulty - Easy to Moderate.
Scenery - OUTSTANDING!!!
Amenities (food/restaurants/shops) - Great
Trail Condition - Great (asphalt and concrete)
Parking - You just have to MapQuest like I say and find it. Some is free, others you pay. Once you find a great parking location store it in your navigation.
Have fun...it's great!!
Can't beat riding along the pacific and Monterrey bay
Even though there are many street crossings, the trail surface is excellent and the scenery is beautiful until you get to Seaside. I turned around at Seaside because I got tired of the traffic noise, hilly terrain, and exhaust fumes. This trail is classed as a "rail trail" but it's much too winding and hilly to have followed the actual rail bed.
One of the best rides around. Bikes are allowed from the start at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove and are available at many points in Pacific Grove and Cannery Row. You can continue south around Ocean View Blvd and Sunset Drive past the Asilomar Beach on to the 17 mile drive which allows bikes at no charge.
I have enjoyed this trail many times over the past 20 years, but I recently was thrown off my bike and suffered a concussion because part of the trail is very treacherous due to large underlying tree roots. If you are biking from Monterey through Seaside and Marina to the northern terminus at Highway #1 and Del Monte Blvd. do not proceed past Beach Road in Marina. The next 1/2 mile stretch is very treacherous. I have urged Monterey County to either fix this section of the trail it or close it. I have received no response from them.
Fantastic trail for running, walking, cycling, sightseeing, or anything pedestrian! Monterey is an extremely pedestrian friendly place and the views and wildlife on this trail are second to none!
We stayed on Cannery Row in Monterey right across from the trail. We rode to the trails Northern end-point just shy of Castroville. We had drinks from a food truck that was parked there and then headed back.It is a really nice trail that takes you through the dunes with nice views of Monterey Bay.
The trail follows a railroad but is not actually on the railroad bed so there is some climbing.
We rode this in mid October and the weather was great.
More info on this ride and others we've done at http://LocoJoe.com
Definitely do this ride on a clear day -- which can be a challenge in the summertime. Stunning views of the coast. I have ridden this from Monterey north, don't know about the southern rout from Monterey to Pacific Grove.
Fairly easy ride, with a few hills.
My wife and I have taken this trail several times, the first being about 15 years ago with 6 children in tow and the last being this month. We have only ridden the southernmost part of the trail. This last time we started from a large shopping center in Sand City and turned around at Lovers Point, making the ride about 10 miles round trip. This part of the trail is relatively flat and is extremely scenic, with stunning views of sand dunes, rocky coast lines, marinas, and Monterrey's tourist areas including Fisherman's Warf and Cannery Row. Restaurants with outdoor seating abound for meals, snacks, and cold beverages. Do not be in a hurry on this one; frequent stops for taking in the views and snapping pictures of the bay, sailboats, seals, sea otters, and the like are a must and will turn your ride into the relaxing casual event you'll never forget. It is no wonder that it is near the top of Rails-to-Trails top 100 trails list.
Thank you for all your good work, including helping people to access local information sources. Our Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, from Castroville to parts of Pebble Beach, is 29 miles long. For tips prepared by a 30-year resident and local cyclist--including information from and links to the best Monterey County bicycle shops, services, clubs, and other resources--you may refer to http://www.BicyclingMonterey.com - Welcome!
I did this trail from south to north and back again. This is really a very diverse trail with the urban area thru Monterey in the south, the ocean views in the middle and then road views up north. Just south of Roberts Ave, take the turn up and over the dunes instead of going straight and then having to use the road to continure on the trail. North of the ocean views is a gap in the trail, but it is well signed on the road. Lots of hills and wind to give you a workout. The northern terminus is at Del Monte Blvd and Lapis Road on the north side of Marina. I would surely go out of my way to ride this trail again.
"This really is a great long-distance trail---with a few exceptions. If you're rollerblading, the section from the Naval Post-Graduate School down to the wharf can be kinda rough, as the asphalt isn't in the greatest condition. This is also the area where you start having to cross busy intersections and dodge tourists--avoid it like the plague on weekends. However, as of Feb. 2001, the section from Seaside Beach all the way to Marina has been repaved, is unbelievably smooth, and best of all, completely uncongested. (You do run into a number of formidable hills, though.) "
"This trail is actually LONGER than what is posted on this site. The trail continues north from Seaside along Highway 1 through the former Fort Ord to Marina where it then follows the old Sothern Pacific Rail line along Delmonte Blvd. till its terminus north of Marina at Del Monte Blvd. and Higway 1. Adventurous bikers can follow a rural route that parallels Hwy 1 north towards a rec. trail in Castroville. I estimate the total additional trail to be about 10 miles from Seaside to its terminus north of Marina. There are great views of the coast along Monterey Bay and the trail keeps you well separated from the traffic of Hwy. 1.
This is an excellent trail for beginners and those who enjoy distance sports. Its condition and quality is excellent with the following editorial comments. It is a little on the narrow side, so those on foot need to keep an eye out for bikers as there isn't much room. It is very busy in Monterey, I would not recommend bicycling that portion if you want to go fast. Big downside, the Pacific Grove portion of the trail does not allow bicycles :( however, a road runs parallel with it."
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