Pets allowed
Trail type
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Beautiful veiws. Wildflowers. Meets additonal trails.


Noise pollution. Windy. Poison oak.

Trailhead Elevation

155.00 ft (47.24 m)


Whale watching
Bird watching
Big vistas

Suitable for



Nearby Adventures

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
Half Moon Bay State Park, California
Golden Gate National Recreation Area


Hello Guys,
Iam nearly planning to visit Gray whale cove trail, can anybody tell me what is the best time to come in the weekdays to get parking easily?
and is that a secure place to visit with family?

Thank you
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