Morning on the mountain, afternoon at the beach, and in between both: banner ocean views. It’s all within 3 miles’ reach on the Peninsula when you get an early start at Montara State Beach. From the parking lot, beeline for Montara Mountain’s north peak trailhead, which is across the street, north (there’s a parking lot here as well).
This loop starts by hopping onto North Peak Access Road and following it until you reach a building where you’ll take a left and officially start the hike, which is a gradual climb along scrub-covered hillsides with surrounding valleys. After about 2 miles, the top of the climb is marked by a pole and a cypress tree, and gorgeous views of the ocean as you continue along the singletrack. Scan for breaching gray whales in the distance—they’re migrating this time of year.
When the trail comes to a T near another cypress, look for Devil’s Slide Bunker on your right and see if you can spot the Farallon Islands in the distance. Take a left and get your last long look at the Pacific scenery before descending the ridge back to North Peak Access Road. Back at the lot, grab your beach gear. The most direct access to the beach is to walk straight towards the ocean from Montara State Beach parking lot and down a small ravine. A set of stairs is also available on the north end of the parking lot. Kick back and watch the waves, or stroll for miles along the sand.
Get to the Montara State Beach parking lot early as there’s limited parking. Dog-friendly!