Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Montara Mountain - Pacifica Hike

Saturday afternoon marked the end of our HOT San Francisco weather.  Winds blew in cooler temps and clouds, and Sunday morning we even got rained on while heading to brunch.  The rain was, thankfully, short-lived, and the afternoon brought sunny but much cooler weather with lots of wind.  
I had read about Montara Mountain in Pacifica's McNee Ranch State Park, which rises almost 2000 feet from the beach, and reviews claimed it is a good hike for less-than-clear days.  So after brunch (at Park Tavern in North Beach, btw, which was really good!), we headed south 20 miles to Pacifica. 

Montara Mountain has four different trial heads; we chose Gray Whale Cove State Beach, with easy parking and access from Highway 1 and nice views of the ocean on the hike up to the summit.

We chose a combination of routes, with a longer climb to the summit (the summit's on the far right in the map above), and a descent made shorter by a very steep short-cut.  Our total was 8.2 windy miles--we were nearly blown off the mountain at one point.  (I think that aspect added to the adventure, but W wasn't so convinced.)

The trail we took wound around the bluffs for a couple of miles before turning steep:

This is when the wind really started to pick up, too!

But the views were incredible--I was already thinking of a return trip when the air was a bit more clear and the wind more calm.

Two hours in, we reached the summit, and we could see views North past San Francisco to Marin, South past Half Moon Bay to Pescadero, and East towards the East Bay and airport.  

We couldn't stay on the summit of Montara Mountain for too long or we would have been blown off of it,  so we took a few self-portraits and scrambled down the trail.  

The descent was much faster, partially due to a short-cut in the trail, and we finished with nice lighting over Gray Whale Cove as we got near our car.

We both agree on a calmer day, we would love to do this hike again (and bring friends next time!)

Another cool city adventure...our move to the Bay Area just over 18 months ago was exactly the right move for us!


  1. Great photos. Surprised there aren't any children or small animals blowing by, though.

    1. How many times did my hat blow off? I thought it was a goner that last time...

  2. More beautiful photos. If you offer that route to these friends at some point in the future, they'll certainly accept.

    Forget if we told you we also took a Sunday hike, down on the Big Sur coast. We, too, just about got blown off the mountain. We turned around on one route after about five minutes, and chose a more protected route. Before we got out of the heavy winds, we saw a Ford Explorer go blowing by, picked right off of Highway One and last seen headed for the summit. Very impressive.



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