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Montara, California, United States

Montara Mountain, McNee Ranch State Park

Overlook pristine coastal landscapes from a mountain top that’s just a short drive from San Francisco.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.0 miles / 11.3 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: If you’re looking for sun along the fog-bound San Francisco peninsula coastline, then Montara Mountain is the place to head for. Rising almost 2,000 feet above the beaches of Pacifica, here is where the sun often breaks through the clouds. Even when the sun continues to hide, there’s still a chance that by the time you hike to the summit you’ll be hiking above the clouds.

Choose your trailhead from those listed below. The shortest official hike begins in San Pedro Valley County Park promising great views from the Northern flanks of the mountain towards Pacifica. The other routes cover the Western and Southern slopes of Montara Mountain and offer a different experience and different views over a wilder terrain. (Mileages shown below are each way)

• 3.5 miles from San Pedro Valley County Park trailhead.
• 3.9 miles from Mc Nee Ranch trailhead.
• 4.1 miles from Farralone Cutoff, Montara.
• 4.8 miles from Graywhale Cove SB (3.1 miles with shortcut).

Elevation gain:
• 2,000ft (from 0ft - 1,898ft)

Points of Interest


Farralone Cutoff

From here its 4.1 miles to the summit. The route crosses the cultivated fields north of Montara before picking up the old Pedro Mountain Road and past McNee ranch before the real climb begins.

Approach this trailhead by turning of Route 1 at 2nd Street and taking a left turn onto Farallone Avenue. Limited parking is available, but please be mindful of local residents' access.

McNee Ranch Trailhead

From the McNee Ranch State Park trailhead it's a 3.9 mile journey to North Peak. Several parking spots are available here, along with more slightly further down the road.

Graywhale Cove State Beach

At 4.8 miles, this is the longest route to summit of Montara Mountain that we've included in this guide.

Some folk locate an unofficial shortcut just a few hundred feet from the trailhead. Scrambling its way directly up the hill it shaves away a huge segment of trail, reducing the total trip to 3.1 miles each way.

Parking at this trailhead is great, thanks to a huge lot located at the side of Route 1.

San Pedro Valley Park

This narrow 3.5 mile trail begins inside the boundary of San Pedro Valley County Park, passing through eucalyptus forest and rising high into the hills revealing increasingly impressive views of the surrounding area and the coastline of Pacifica.

The trail meets up with the main trail just 1.1 miles from the summit.

A day use fee is payable for parking in San Pedro Valley Park. Also, observe the closing hours of the park to avoid parking penalties or a lock-in.

[JCT] McNee Ranch

Proceed uphill through the gates, keeping the footbridge to your right. If you approached this junction from the South, you'll have passed the ranch buildings before crossing the bridge.

[JCT] Pedro Mountain Road

Before the opening of Route 1, Pedro Mountain Road was the only connection between the areas we now know as Pacifica and Montara.

Today it remains in use as a hiking an mountain bike trail, steadily winding uphill from McNee S
Now it remains as a hiking trail, which steadily winds uphill from the South, past McNee Ranch and over the ridgeline before twisting back down to the Linda Mar area.

At this junction the road can be seen running from West to East. Continue your journey up Pablo Mountain Road, heading uphill in an Easterly direction.

[JCT] Pedro Mountain Road North

Continue uphill, heading East following the Montara Mountain ridgeline trail.

The trail to the North is the continuation of Pedro Mountain Road, which terminates 3.6 miles later at the end of Higgins Way in the Linda Mar area of Pacifica.

[JCT] San Pedro Valley Park Trail

The 2.4 mile long trail from San Pedro Valley Park meets up with the Montara Trail here.

Heading in a southwesterly direction there's now little over a mile to go before the summit.


Congratulations on reaching the 1898ft summit of Montara Mountain, which is on the right, past the microwave towers and radio masts.

From up here you can enjoy 360 degree panoramas of the San Francisco Peninsula and the northern part of these Santa Cruz Mountains. Evening is a great time to head up here - time it right and on your return to the trailhead you can enjoy watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
I really enjoyed this hike. I brought my dog with me, and we did really great. I went on a Monday, and had the whole place to myself. The weather was overcast with bits of sunshine here and there. I liked it because it never got too hot. There were some steep inclines that get your heart rate up, but other than that it was a very comfortable trail to hike on. I'll definitely be going back!
Visited on Jul 22, 2013

by headkayce on Jul 22, 2013

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