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Gray Whale Cove Trail

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Gray Whale Cove Trail

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  • Gray Whale Cove seen from Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus).- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Cutoff toward Montara Mountain summit from Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  •  Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Devil's Slide seen from Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Hikers on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Indian paintbrush on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Montara State Beach seen from Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Overlook from Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Hikers at overlook on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Looking south on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Lupine on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Cutoff from Gray Whale Cove Trail toward the top of Montara Mountain.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Mountain bikers look toward Montara State Beach on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • Montara Mountain seen from Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • A hiker on Gray Whale Cove Trail.- Gray Whale Cove Trail
  • - Gray Whale Cove Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful veiws. Wildflowers. Meets additonal trails.
Cons: 
Noise pollution. Windy. Poison oak.
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Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
155.00 ft (47.24 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Gray Whale Cove Trail is a short, easy hike that hugs the hillside above Highway 1 between Montara State Beach and Gray Whale Cove. The trail is approximately 1 mile each way with an elevation change of only 130 feet. 

Wildflowers and stunning ocean views make Gray Whale Cove Trail worthwhile for hikers of all abilities. Those looking for more challenging terrain will be pleased to find several steep singletrack trails that split off toward Old Pedro Mountain Road, North Peak Access Road, and the top of Montara Mountain.

Trailheads are located on the east side of Highway 1 in two locations. With more ample parking, the Gray Whale Cove lot marked Montara State Beach/McNee Ranch is preferable. An additional trailhead is located a mile south, but it can only accommodate four vehicles. Parking on the west side at Montara State Beach and crossing Highway 1 is not recommended.   

The weather varies dramatically along the San Mateo County coast. Be prepared for sun, fog, rain, or high winds on the exposed ridges of McNee Ranch. Poison oak plagues hikers in the area; long pants and boots are necessary for venturing out on the less groomed, secondary trails.

Horses, bikes, and leashed dogs are welcomed on Gray Whale Cove Trail.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Location + Directions

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(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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