Hike Date: March 4, 2012
Distance: ~ 5 miles
Trail(s): Montara Mountain Trail, Montara Mountain Road
Where’s it at? Pacifica and Montara, CA on the coast


Spent a gorgeous Sunday heading down through the city and Golden Gate on my way to meet a friend at McNee Ranch State Beach for a hike on Montara Mountain from San Pedro Valley park to McNee Ranch / Montara State beach. We’d both taken the San Pedro loop trail along the waterfall before so wanted to try a new route. Original goal was to hike from San Pedro Valley parking lot up to Montara Mountain and then down the whole trail back to McNee where the other car was parked. Afterward we planned a meal and drink at La Costanera Restaurant in Montara. Tip: Find out when their happy hour is and go for drinks and appetizers while watching an amazing sunset. Tip 2: Get there a little before they open so you can pick a good seat, whether that’s outside on the patio by the fires, or inside near the window. Tip 3: Their chicken appetizer was great!

After a little confusion on exactly which parking lot of the many we were meeting at, we hopped into my car for the trek back to San Pedro Valley in Pacifica. We paid the $6 for day use parking and found a nice spot by the trailhead. What we neglected to think about is the fact that the parking lot closes at sunset, and we’d planned to be sipping cocktails and eating during the sunset, 20 minutes away. We ended up having to come back for the car early, but it wasn’t a problem since we’d also neglected to find out when the restaurant opens and had 2 hours to kill anyway!

There are a couple ways to go about getting up to the fire road trail that’ll take you up to the peak of Mount Montara and/or down to Montara / McNee beach. If you take the more eastern trail you will pass by the waterfall. We opted to take the more direct western route which gives better views of Pacifica and the Pacific Ocean and has a few scenic benches toward the top. Both of these trails are single track. The western trail we took starts out by winding through a forest of pretty large eucalyptus trees. On a quiet, windy day you can hear a constant creaking of the trees swaying in the wind.

As you approach the fire road trail the trail becomes very narrow in some spots with treacherous poison oak lining the sides. I’ve always worn shorts here anyway but my advice is just watch your step. When we arrived at the fire road trail my hiking partner, dreaming of sunsets and beach-side cocktails, chose to skip the summit hike and instead begin our descent toward the beach. This trail is 100% fire road but does offer some really nice views of both Pacifica and Montara, and down into Half Moon Bay to the south. On a clear day you can see the Farrallon Islands also, which this was. The trail here is downright steep and slippery, the kind of long descent that forces your toes to dig into the front of your shoes and for your to really plant a firm foot with each step. The trail is slippery because it has small loose rocks on it, as though a strong wind had never whipped through this area.

Upon finishing the hike and saving my car from being locked inside the gate overnight, we made our way to the beach and sat on some rocks taking in the peacefulness while we waited for the Peruvian Bar and Grill to open. My only regret is that we only went there 10 minutes before opening and had already lost the most prime seating spots. We did get a nice table though, by the window inside, ordering 4 different appetizers plates and a delicious and refreshing cocktail each.

This was a great hike. I think my favorite in the area though is to just hike up the waterfall trail, go to the summit, and come back to San Pedro on a different route to make it a loop. But whenever you find a nice clear day on the coast, do make a trip here and try out that Peruvian restaurant while you’re at it!

Photos from Hiking San Pedro Valley and Montara SB (click to enlarge)

Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach
Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach
http://timsartoris.com/blog/san-pedro-to-montara-state-beach-hike http://timsartoris.com/blog/san-pedro-to-montara-state-beach-hike http://timsartoris.com/blog/san-pedro-to-montara-state-beach-hike
http://timsartoris.com/blog/san-pedro-to-montara-state-beach-hike http://timsartoris.com/blog/san-pedro-to-montara-state-beach-hike http://timsartoris.com/blog/san-pedro-to-montara-state-beach-hike
Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach
Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach
Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach Hiking San Pedro Valley to Montara State Beach

Directions to Montara State Beach / McNee Ranch Parking


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