Conquer Monterey Hiking Trails with This Practical Guide

Find out the best Monterey hiking trails. Learn about terrain, safety protocols and regulations and get tips for planning and packing an unforgettable day out.

Are you looking to explore the great outdoors and take in the incredible sights and sounds of Monterey, California? Then look no further! This guide is designed to give you all the information you need to know about hiking in the Monterey area.

We will provide you with information on the best trails, what to bring, and safety tips so that you can have an amazing time exploring our beautiful region. So let’s get started – here’s everything you need to know about the best Monterey hikes.

Monterey Hiking Trails

A Recommended Monterey Hiking Trail

There are several recommended hiking trails in Monterey, California. The Jack’s Peak and Skyline Trail is an easy trail that offers breathtaking views of Carmel. The Huckleberry Hill Loop Trail is a moderate trail that takes hikers through a forest, while the Shoreline Stroll Trail is another easy trail that offers scenic views of the coast.

The Skyline Trail is a self-guided path that features impressive views and is primarily used for nature trips and bird watching. The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has very easy walking trails as well as more challenging hiking trails from 0.8 to 2.9 miles. 

Andrew Molera State Park is another recommended hiking trail that is located 20 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.

The Carmel Valley Trail

Looking for an alternative to the popular hiking trails of Monterey? Consider exploring another of the area’s hidden gems, the Carmel Valley area.

The Carmel Valley area has several hiking trails that offer beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. The Jacks Peak County Park has several popular trails, including the Earl Moser Trail Loop, which is a 1.8-mile loop trail that offers expansive views of Monterey Bay, Carmel Valley, and Point Lobos.

The Calla Lily Valley is another popular hiking trail that features wild Calla Lilies and a creek that flows down to the valley. The trail is a 1.1-mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Carmel, California.

The Mitteldorf Preserve in Carmel Valley is another hiking trail that is now open to the public. The preserve offers several hiking trails that wind through the valley and offer beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

The terrain along the hiking trails in Carmel Valley varies from flat to moderate, making it suitable for hikers of all experience levels. The trails are well-marked and easy to navigate, so hikers can be sure to find their way through the dense vegetation. It is recommended that hikers bring water as there are no water sources on the trails. 

Along the trail, you’ll come across a range of different kinds of wildlife, from birds to deer. Make sure to stay on the path and watch out for any potentially dangerous animals. After the full loop of the trail, you can reward yourself with a dip in one of the tucked-away swimming holes.

Another Monterey Hiking Trail

If you’re looking for a more challenging adventure, then Route 3 is a great option for seasoned hikers. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is an 18-mile-long path that runs along the coast of Monterey Bay, stretching from Castroville in the north to Pacific Grove in the south.

The trail is a former railway that has been converted into a paved path for walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters.

The trail passes several tourist attractions along the way, including Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Fisherman’s Wharf. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is truly immersed in its seaside environment, providing access to sandy beaches, fishing piers, and other seaside attractions.

The trail is a popular destination for both locals and tourists and is a great way to explore the beauty of Monterey Bay.

10 Best Hiking Trails Near Monterey

  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Located just south of Carmel, this popular reserve offers scenic coastal hikes, tidepools, and opportunities for wildlife viewing.
  • Garland Ranch Regional Park: This 4,000-acre park near Carmel Valley offers over 20 miles of hiking trails through oak woodlands, grassy meadows, and riparian habitats.
  • Fort Ord National Monument: Once a military base, this 14,000-acre monument offers over 80 miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, with scenic views of Monterey Bay.
  • Pinnacles National Park: Located about an hour’s drive southeast of Monterey, this park offers hiking trails through dramatic rock formations, caves, and a talus cave system.
  • Andrew Molera State Park: Located in Big Sur, this park offers hiking trails along the Big Sur River and through coastal scrub, grasslands, and redwood groves.
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Also located in Big Sur, this park offers hiking trails with stunning views of the coast, including the iconic McWay Falls.
  • Garrapata State Park: This park is located just south of Carmel and offers hiking trails through coastal canyons, redwood groves, and along the rocky shoreline.
  • Jacks Peak County Park: Located just east of Monterey, this park offers over eight miles of hiking trails through oak woodlands and chaparral, with views of Monterey Bay.
  • Palo Corona Regional Park: Located between Carmel and Monterey, this park offers hiking trails through oak woodlands, grassy meadows, and along the scenic Carmel River.
  • Soberanes Canyon Trail: This trail is located in Garrapata State Park and offers a challenging hike through a beautiful coastal canyon, with views of the ocean and surrounding hills.

Looking for the Best Hiking Gear & Supplies?

When it comes to hiking Monterey trails, it’s important to be prepared with the right gear and supplies. Having the appropriate items with you will allow for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Here is a list of essential items when packing for a hike in Monterey:

  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Extra layers of clothing
  • Rain gear in case of sudden showers
  • Hat for protection from the elements
  • Water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Snacks and energy bars
  • First aid kit
  • Map and compass
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Insect repellent

If you are planning to spend a night camping, some additional items may be needed—such as a tent, sleeping accessories, a cook stove and fuel, and an emergency shelter. It is also recommended to bring along a whistle, fire starter, and a knife or multi-tool.

Safety Tips When Hiking in Monterey

When hiking in Monterey, it is important to follow the necessary safety protocols. This includes taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the hike is safe and enjoyable for all those involved. Here are some of the safety protocols that must be followed when hiking in this area:

  • Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the terrain.
  • Bring enough water for everyone in the group.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, and watch for changing conditions and wildlife.
  • Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Bring a charged mobile phone and let someone know where you will be going.
  • Do not take shortcuts and stick to well-worn trails.
  • Do not overexert yourself or wander off alone.

By following these safety protocols, you can help ensure that your Monterey hike is a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Regulations for Hikers in Monterey

Hiking on Monterey’s trails requires hikers to adhere to certain regulations and acquire the right permits.

If you plan on venturing into any of the National Parks, you need to obtain a valid entry permit, either online or at the ranger station. Most National Parks also ask that visitors adhere to the park’s rules while they are in the area.

You also need to get permits if you plan on camping overnight in some areas. Make sure to check with the park rangers before you start your hike if you plan to camp, as permits may not always be readily available.

It’s recommended that hikers respect all signs and barriers that are posted. Please remember, when traveling in the wilderness, it is important to stay on established trails. This helps protect the environment from unnecessary disturbances and damage.

Planning a hike can be an exciting and rewarding experience. To ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time, there are several important steps to take when preparing for your excursion.

Preparing for Your Hike

Before setting off on a Monterey hiking trail, it is very important to plan ahead. To get the most out of your trip, it’s essential to have all the necessary gear, supplies, and a good understanding of the route and even the best places to hike in Monterey.

The following are some useful tips on how to prepare for a successful hike:

  • Be sure to check the weather forecast before leaving home. For an extended hike, it’s recommended to bring adequate clothing and protection from the elements.
  • Research the area you are planning to hike in advance. Familiarize yourself with the terrain and degree of difficulty. This is the best way to explore and will help you plan the safest, most effective route.
  • Bring enough food and water for the entire day. If you plan to take an overnight hike, also pack snacks, energy bars, and other items that are high in calories.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Always carry a map and a compass.
  • Pack an emergency first-aid kit, containing items such as bandages, insect repellent, sunscreen, and sunscreen.
  • Wear the correct attire for the season and location. Make sure your clothes are breathable, waterproof, and suitable for the climate you are in.


When it comes to hiking, you can never be too prepared. Unexpected rain, wind, or even snow can be a major inconvenience on the trail, so it pays to come prepared for whatever weather conditions may arise.

Here are some tips for ensuring you’re ready for any type of weather during your next hike in Monterey.

  • Pack extra layers: Always bring along a few extra layers in your pack, including a lightweight jacket or windbreaker, and an extra pair of socks. This will help ensure you stay warm and comfortable, even if the temperature drops.
  • Bring a hat and gloves: Even if it’s sunny outside, it’s important to keep your head, hands, and feet warm. Hats and gloves are easy to pack and can make a huge difference when the temperature drops.
  • Bring a waterproof bag: If it starts raining, you’ll want to make sure any electronics, maps, or other items aren’t damaged. So, pack a waterproof bag for added protection.
  • Check the forecast: Before heading out on your hike, take a moment to check the local weather forecast. This will help you plan ahead and make sure you’re properly dressed for the conditions.

By following these tips, you can stay safe and comfortable while taking on the trails of Monterey. Don’t let the weather stop you from experiencing the beautiful outdoors!


This guide has outlined some of the best Monterey hiking trails available to explore. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, it is important to familiarize yourself with the terrain, distance, regulations, and safety protocols before embarking on a hike.

Additionally, being prepared with the right gear and supplies can make all the difference in the experience. By following the tips and advice in this guide, we hope that you have a safe, enjoyable, and memorable experience.

Thank you for reading our guide on Monterey Hiking Trails. We wish you lots of fun and exploration!

Frequently Asked Questions about Monterey Hiking Trails

Q: What kind of information does this guide provide?

A: This guide provides information about recommended Monterey hiking trails, descriptions of the trails including distance, terrain and degree of difficulty, gear and supplies required to participate in this type of activity, safety protocols, regulations, planning tips, weather-proofing advice, and a packing list.

Q: How can I prepare for a hike?

A: Before taking a hike, it is important to research the trails carefully, such as the distance, terrain and degree of difficulty. Make sure to bring all the necessary gear and supplies. Additionally, review local regulations and obtain permits if necessary. Finally, always follow safety protocols and be well prepared for unexpected weather conditions.

Q: What should I pack for a hike?

A: A recommended packing list for a hike includes comfortable and sturdy shoes, extra socks and clothing, sunscreen, hat or sunglasses, snacks or meals, drinking water, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, and a map or GPS device.

Q: What are the most important safety protocols to follow while hiking?

A: Always follow trail rules, wear protective clothing and appropriate footwear, stay on the trails and out of restricted areas, carry a mobile phone for emergency situations, research the terrain and weather patterns, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return, and never hike alone.

Q: Are permits needed for hiking in Monterey?

A: Yes, some parks may require permits before you are allowed to hike. It is best to check the disclaimer and understand any specific regulations that apply in your area.

Q: Should I carry a first aid kit when I go hiking?

A: Yes, it is highly recommended to always carry a first aid kit when hiking. It should include items like bandages, antiseptic ointment/spray, aspirin, tweezers, safety scissors.

Q: What is the best way to weather-proof my hike?

A: In order to weather-proof a hike, it is important to do your research and know the expected weather conditions of your hike. Pack clothes and supplies accordingly, such as waterproof jackets, rain pants, and hats. Additionally, always check the trails after heavy rains to know whether they are safe to travel.

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