Trail of the Month: July 2006
Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, California
Winding along the coast of Monterey, Calif., the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and a great way to tour the city while enjoying the outdoors. The trail follows the former Southern Pacific Railroad track line where goods where once transferred between northern California and the historic fishing town of Monterey. Beginning in Pacific Grove at the Lovers Point trailhead—the northern end of the trail—you will want to stop and take a picture of the beautiful rocky shoreline to the west. But don't put your camera away yet, because the beautiful views continue and there are many photo opportunities along the trail of beach scenes, otters, boats, kayakers and much more.
After 0.3 miles you will come to a mural, which offers the history of the area around the trail. As you continue along the trail, about a mile down from the northern end, you'll reach Cannery Row. This area offers many restaurants as well as shopping, lodging and entertainment for all ages.
After a string of street crossings, you will run into the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium offers various exhibits where you can see anything from a giant octopus to nearly two dozen species of sharks. Shortly after you pass the Aquarium, you'll reach San Carlos Beach and Fisherman's Shoreline Park, roughly 1.5 miles into the journey. The trail continues towards a smaller beach where you will be able to view the sailing and fishing boats scattered throughout the bay.
Once you hit the two-mile mark you'll run into Fisherman's Wharf with its various restaurants and shops as well as incredible views of the ocean. The wharf is probably the most popular destination on the trail because of the location, the scenery, and its historical past which includes several generations of fishing craft.
Beyond the Wharf, you will continue on a pathway that is close to the usually busy Del Monte Road. But don't worry; the scene will quickly change as you enter the southern end of the trail where it runs into Monterey State Beach. Here you will be able to view sand dunes and, further down the trail, a eucalyptus forest, which serves as a wall separating the trail from the road. The next few miles become a bit more commercial as the trail continues to follow the coastline towards the shopping centers of Seaside, and then continues for a few more miles towards the city of Marina. This wonderful coastal rail-trail currently extends 18 miles from Pacific Grove before ending in Castroville, and is thought of as one the most scenic, long trails in all of California.