Point Lobos Loop Trail.
Photo courtesy: Gettyimages.com
Match your mood to these hikes, whether you want to soothe or sweat.
By Blane Bachelor
Monterey County is a hiker's paradise, with a head-spinning array of trails showing off stunning landscapes: scalloped beaches, coastal bluffs, and redwood groves, just to name a few. With so much to choose from, it can be hard to narrow it down. These hikes will suit your state of mind.
Ollason Peak, Toro Regional Park
You'll earn your views on this quad-busting, 8.3–mile loop to 1,800–foot Ollason Peak. Be prepared for some seriously steep sections (and likely some interactions with cows). Watch out for mountain bikers barreling downhill. There's a picnic table at the top to catch your breath and savor the expansive views of Salinas Valley.
Skyline Trail, Jacks Peak Park
When you don't have the energy for a hardcore hike but still want to get outside, this 0.8–mile loop is just the spot. Amble through native Monterey pine and wildflowers, such as California poppy and Indian paintbrush, on your way to the 1,068-foot summit of Jacks Peak, where spectacular views of Monterey Bay unfold. Not bad for less than a mile of hiking.
Andrew Molera Loop, Andrew Molera State Park
Ocean vistas and the steady crash of waves are universally soothing, and they take center stage on this 8.8–mile loop that links several trails, including the Bluffs, Panorama, and Ridge. Along the way, you'll soak up gorgeous views of the Big Sur lighthouse and the coast. Several spurs lead to remote beaches where you just might be the only one there.
Point Lobos Loop Trail, Point Lobos State Nature Reserve
This 6.7–mile loop is one of the area's most beautiful trails, which means it's also one of the most popular, so you won't have it to yourself. Instead, embrace the spirit of sharing and grab your favorite hiking buddies to marvel over the majesty of this coastal beauty — from the eye-popping canvas of wildflowers to sea lions frolicking in the Pacific.