Monterey: Peninsula Coastal Rec Trail-17 Mile Dr-Fort Ord Dunes

Thursday, February 20, 2014

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The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail extends 18 miles from Pacific Grove in the south to Castroville in the north. This paved trail hugs the beautiful Monterey Bay coast and follows the old Southern Pacific railroad line which was used to haul goods between the fishing town of Monterey and northern California. 

This out and back ride begins from the north end in Marina and heads south along the trail through the cities of Seaside and Sand City to Del Monte, Monterey and Pacific Grove. The route continues along the coast to Pebble Beach for the scenic ride along 17 Mile Dr. The return includes a ride on Beach Range Rd through Fort Ord Dunes State Park.

We begin our ride at Del Monte Blvd & Beach Rd in Marina and head north for 2.1 miles towards Castroville.

We pick up the trail at the northern end off Del Monte Blvd back to Marina.

The trail runs parallel to Hwy 1 to the next city-Seaside.

At Seaside, the trail takes a sharp right turn under Hwy 1 and goes up and over the hill-watch out for the sand drifts on the road! On the other side, the trail opens up to magnificent views of Santa Lucia Mountains, Seaside Beach and the blue waters of the Pacific and Monterey Bay-WOW!


The trail eventually exits onto the back side of the Sand Dollar Shopping Center on Metz Rd to Tioga Ave. The trail starts up again on the west end of Tioga Ave over Hwy 1 near Sand Dunes Dr. The trail runs parallel to Sand Dunes Dr to Seaside Beach.

The trail slightly jogs left on Sand Dunes Dr and continues up through the sand dunes with fabulous city views of Seaside, Roberts Lake and the Santa Lucia Range. Watch for sand drifts along the path and watch your speed on the descent to Del Monte!

As you ride into Monterey, the trail runs parallel to the busy Del Monte Rd and enters under the shade of a eucalyptus forest through the Naval Postgraduate School and opens up to the beautiful views of the cypress trees, impressive sand dunes and sandy shores along Monterey State Beach.

The trail weaves its way along the popular Fisherman’s Wharf area with its restaurants and shops. There are great views of the harbor and the area around Monterey State Historic Park & plaza. This is a heavy traffic area with lots of tourists, cyclists and families on rental surreys-be cautious! This is also a great place to stop for a snack and pit stop-restrooms are available at the Museum of Monterey. The trail continues along the Monterey Bay Sanctuary; stop and enjoy the scenery and check out the harbor seals and other wildlife along the bay waters.

Next up, the trail travels by the back side of Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium; this area is made famous by author John Steinbeck. The cannery buildings are now occupied by many restaurants, retail shops and other entertainment venues-it’s gone commercial!

The rec trail continues to Pacific Grove pass the The American Tin Cannery shopping and outlet mall out to Lovers Point Beach. This section of trail has murals portraying the history of the area and dramatic views of the rocky shoreline along the coast.

The trail ends at Pacific Grove and exits onto Ocean View Blvd. We continue on Ocean View Blvd through the tide pool areas at Lovers Point Park and Lucas Point. The ocean front estate homes has unobstructed views of the rugged coast, beaches and scenic points. 

Sunset Dr stays along the coast with views of the greens at Pacific Grove Golf Links and Point Pinos Lighthouse. The road winds around to the sand dunes at Asilomar State Beach. The ocean views are astounding along with the sound effects of the water pounding the rocky shores and beaches!

We head south on 17 Mile Dr to the Pacific Grove Gate entrance to Pebble Beach. The turn on Spanish Bay Rd takes us out to the Pacific coastline onto one of the most scenic drives in the world-17 Mile Drive. There are many turn out areas to stop and take in the impressive ocean views.

17 Mile Drive meanders along the gorgeous coast with views of the greens around the many golf courses in the area and Del Monte Forest.

The outlook area at Bird Rock has a few picnic tables with water and restrooms facilities nearby. Stop to enjoy the breathtaking views and take in the misty salty ocean air!

The road continues to wind along the coast up towards Cypress Point to Cypress Point Lookout area. You can see the harbor seals lying around the rocky shores.

We stay on 17 Mile Drive through the palatial neighborhoods to our next stop at Lone Cypress. The Lone Cypress has survived for over 250 years on its rocky perch and is one of California’s most photographed landmarks-it’s a beauty!


17 Mile Drive takes us into town for a lunch stop at the Pebble Beach Market.

This is our turnaround point; we simply reverse our way back along 17 Mile Dr through the cypress forest out towards the golf courses.

The road leads us back along the coast with a different perspective of the beautiful landscape, ocean front estates and ocean views.

We make our way back to Pacific Grove on Sunset Dr along the sand dunes around Asilomar State Beach.

Heading north on Ocean View Blvd gives us a better view of the greens at Pacific Grove Links and the wind-blown cypress trees along the coast.

We hop back onto the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail to Monterey, Sand City and Seaside. 

At Seaside, we exit the trail to Fort Ord Dunes State Park. The Beach Range Rd Multi-use trail runs parallel to Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast. This is great alternate route for getting to and from Sand City, Seaside and Marina.

Beach Range Rd is a wonderful 4 miles stretch of smooth pavement through the historic Fort Ord with remnants of the military presence in the park. 

The colorful dunes landscape is stunning with views of the Pacific from the west.


We exit Fort Ord Dunes and take the rec trail back to our starting point in Marina.

The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail is a wonderful way to explore the coastal towns and avoid the busy city streets. There are plenty of places to stop and grab a bite to eat and or to enjoy the gorgeous views around Monterey Bay. You can start at the north or south end of the trail and ride the entire length or shorten it by changing the start point anywhere along the trail. The beauty of this out and back ride is that you can turn around at any point! Come on out and ride this rec trail, the coastal views are spectacular-you’ll love it! 

Garmin Stats:
50.83 Miles with 1678′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 129′
Max grade: 7%
Terrain: Flat to gentle rollers

Weather: Sunny & cool with temps ranging from the low 50’s to the mid 60’s. Breezy NW winds with 36% humidity

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Follow this route for today’s ride: