Living in the Bay Area my whole life, I took for granted the beautiful mountains and ocean views that were in my backyard. My high school Coach would round up the team and take us to Montara Mountain in Pacifica. The only rule was that everyone had to run the whole way up, about 1800ft, to the USGS marker. When I was young I did not appreciate this climb, but as I’m older, I love the smell of the eucalyptus forest, the rocky trail sections, and the amazing ocean views that this trail embraces. Montara Mountain has an abundance of trail options that lead to spectacular coastal views. Depending on your mood and your legs, you can choose three starting points; two in Pacifica, and one in Montara. The Pacifica options start in San Pedro Valley Park or at Old San Pedro Mountain Road at Higgins Way. The Montara option sparked my interest when I stumbled on this article. The climb on the Alta Vista Trail is the shortest and steepest way to the top. I challenge you to run the whole way up. Drinks on me if you can! No matter what route you pick, I promise you a blissful trail run filled with stunning views that you will keep coming back to for more. Little did I know that all those runs up Montara would create a life long love for trail running. -Denise Barchas
Pro tips: Despite the coastal location, these trails get hot! The only water station is at San Pedro Valley Park. Bring plenty of water for you and your pups if you bring them. The Higgins Way route is very popular with bikers on weekends. It’s best to go on a weekday or really early on the weekend. All the trails are dog friendly except dogs are not allowed in San Pedro Valley Park. The last two Strava routes are dog friendly.
7.7 loop from San Pedro Valley Park: https://www.strava.com/routes/2954198655939569662
12.6 run from Higgins Way. You can cut off the Alta Vista climb and take the fire roads to the top if you want to avoid the steep climb. Lots of options on this one: https://www.strava.com/routes/2954201847999026174
8.4 out and back Montara option with the steep climb up:https://www.strava.com/routes/2954200425358458350