Half Moon Bay, California

Hike Montara Mountain

9.6 Miles Total - 2000 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Rachel Davidson

Montara Mountain is an easy summit to add to your Bay Area peakbagging list, a fun hike for families and dogs, or a challenging trail run that will leave your calves screaming.

Montara Mountain is an easy summit to add to your Bay Area peakbagging list, a fun hike for families and dogs, or a challenging trail run that will leave your calves screaming.

The Graywhale Cove State Beach is a popular seaside trail that’s just 20 minutes south of San Francisco. Leaving the city using I-280, take the Highway 1 exit for just about 10 miles to one of the northern-most trail entrances. There are actually four different routes you can take up to the peak of Montara Mountain, depending on which trailhead you choose to park at. Note, these are one-way distances, double this length to calculate your total distance:

  • 3.5 miles from San Pedro Valley County Park trailhead.
  • 3.9 miles from Mc Nee Ranch trailhead.
  • 4.1 miles from Farralone Cutoff, Montara.
  • 4.8 miles from Graywhale Cove SB.

Leaving from Graywhale Cove, the first quarter-mile of the hike climbs upwards and then slopes out into a flat trail that continues around the hills. This trail makes for a very popular and crowded place for day hikers, trail runners, and cyclists.

Follow the path south, until it turns inward. Within a half mile the trail will fork into two directions: A steep upward slope to your left (an unofficial “shortcut” that will take 1.5 miles off), or continuing to the right, where the trail makes a slow, windy ascent through some shade on a fire road. On the fire road, you're able to look ahead a few miles and about 2,000 vertical feet to the top of Montara Mountain.

At the top of a forested section, the fire road runs into the end of the shortcut before continuing up incredibly steep, exposed, dusty slopes. There’s no shade for the last few miles here, so you’ll want to bringlots of sun protection. 

The dusty, rocky trail continues up a few more miles to the summit. All along the way are cutoffs to the other trails I listed above, and you'll see plenty of other hikers and runners who all join up at the top from these different directions.

At the top, you’ll enjoy valley views as well as a stretched-out look at Pacifica and its popular beaches. Since this was a pretty grueling incline without any place to hide from the sun, I promise you’ll enjoy the way down much more than the ascent!

Read More

Tags

Fitness
Running
Hiking
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Amazing view

From San Francisco we went down highway 1, past Pacifica, and Devil's Slide, then stopped to the side at the sign Montara State Beach. From there we followed the steep trail adjacent to it and made it up the fire road all the way to the top in about 2 hours. Along the way are beautiful views of Pacifica, Daly City, even San Francisco and a little bit of the Golden Gate Bridge. To the East are views of San Bruno, Millbrae, Oakland and in the far distance, a silhouette of Mount Diablo

beautiful views

If you can get on the trails before the fog rolls in this is a beautiful hike!

about 5 years ago

It can get socked in with fog in the Spring / Summer, removing the beautiful views. Gets rather steep at points, but makes for a good workout. Saw many people on the trail in the afternoon, looked like a number of SFers escaping the city for the day. Still a great way to spend half a Saturday.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

San Francisco, California

Aquatic Park Cove San Francisco Maritime Nhp

Overview Aquatic Park Cove is a vibrantly urban harbor that mimics a natural anchorage and is located on the Pacific shores of one of America's great West Coast cities. San Francisco Maritime Natio...

From $10/night

Sausalito, California

Bicentennial Campground

Overview Bicentennial Campground is in an ideal location in the Marin Headlands surrounded by a grove of cypress trees. The campground is a great location for those wanting to camp near the city. T...

From $20/night

Pescadero, California

Santa Cruz North / Costanoa KOA

Los Gatos, California

Sunrise Point

Sunrise Point is a micro climate of the Santa Cruz Mountains with an elevation of 2,000 feet about sea level. Sometimes above the fog and clouds and some times in the thick of it! You will be surro...

From $125/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Catch a Sunset at Gray Whale Cove

    Starting at the parking lot adjacent to Gray Whale Cove State Beach, proceed to the start sign indicating "Grey Whale Cove Trail".GWCT is a fun brisk hike with slight elevation gain that should be easy enough to take a small group or even children...

    1 miles 265 ft gain

  • Hike Gray Whale Cove Trail

    Gray whale cove trail is a splendid, short, and easy hike for the entire family with beautiful ocean views. The starting point is conveniently located near a parking lot that accesses Montara State Beach. From the south end of the parking lot, fol...

    2.3 miles 265 ft gain

  • Explore Devil's Slide Bunker

    The Devil's Slide Bunker is perched out on a point the defiantly juts out into the ocean. The Bunker is covered in constantly changing graffiti, which provides a stunning contrast to the gorgeous seaside.Hop on Highway 1 South. Just south of Pacif...

  • Surf at Pacifica State Beach

    If you're looking for a place to surf and Ocean Beach isn't quite your speed or Santa Cruz is too far, head to Pacifica, specifically Linda Mar. Linda Mar is usually more wind protected and user-friendly than ocean beach. Break out your longboard ...