If it's coastal hiking that you are interested in, start in Monterey, where you can join the throngs of people and pups out for a stroll on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, a paved, multi-use path that stretches 18 scenic miles from Castroville in the north to Pacific Grove in the south, hugging a route once used by the Southern Pacific Railway. The Pacific Grove section is a particular DogTrekker favorite. It hugs a stretch of coastline marked by dramatic rock formations, crashing waves, cawing gulls, braying sea lions and passing whales. Clamber down to Asilomar Beach for a close look at wetsuit-clad surfers and life-filled tidepools (but do keep Sparky on a leash).
Ready to ditch the sweatshirt and get more aerobic? Head inland to Garland Ranch Regional Park, whose 4,462 acres are home to a variety of landscapes, from the willow-covered banks of the gurgling Carmel River to shady redwood forests and the open oak savannas at the crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains. This is Carmel Valley’s go-to spot for hiking, and some trails are shared with equestrians and mountain bikers.
Dogs are allowed off-leash in undeveloped areas so long as they stay visible and respond promptly to voice commands.
If you’re not up for a strenuous hike but still long to take in some scenery, the Skyline Nature Trail at Jacks Peak County Park is a good bet (in fact, it’s rated No. 1 on a list of Top 10 Day Hikes published by the Monterey Convention & Visitors Bureau). On a loop covering less than a mile, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Carmel Valley, Point Lobos and the blue Pacific stretching to infinity. Add the Iris Trail to your itinerary for another 1.8 miles of scenic hiking. Here, too, your well behaved dog can accompany you without a tether.
Photo Credit: Jen (CC)