Lovers Point, Pacific Grove - Photo Credit: @desiferguson
The most abiding joy to be had on the Monterey Peninsula is simply enjoying the rugged coastal scenery, and there’s no better way to soak it up than on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. This paved, multi-use path stretches 18 miles from Castroville in the north to Pacific Grove in the south. To get started, we suggest strolling the segment between Cannery Row and Asilomar State Beach, which will take about an hour at a moderate walking pace.
As you leave Cannery Row and pass the Monterey Bay Aquarium to arrive at aptly named Lovers Point, a great place for picnicking, whale-watching, surfer-watching and just hanging out with your dog and your human sweetie. The Pacific Grove section that continues from there is particularly scenic; it passes a historic lighthouse and hugs a stretch of coastline marked by dramatic rock formations, crashing waves, cawing gulls, braying sea lions and passing whales. Asilomar State Beach is a long, narrow strip of sandy beach, rocky coves and tidepools popular with surfers and families. Cross Sunset Drive to amble along a boardwalk through Asilomar Natural Dunes Natural Preserve. The boardwalk leads to Asilomar Conference Grounds, a historic complex managed by California State Parks. It’s not dog-friendly per se, but you can walk through on the roads if you like.
Ready to ditch that sweatshirt you needed on the coastal trail? Head inland to Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley, where 4,463 acres encompassing a wide variety of landscapes, from redwood forests to open savannahs, are open to hikers and DogTrekkers. Well-behaved dogs can accompany you off-leash away from developed areas on designated trails, so long as they don’t interfere with other users (including cyclists and equestrians).
And there are many other choices within the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. Jack’s Peak County Park, with 8.5 miles of trails traversing cathedral-like forests and open ridge-tops with panoramic views, is a favorite for dogs with a human in tow.
Photo Credit: @desiferguson