Montara Mountain from San Pedro Valley Park

The hike to Montana Mountain from San Pedro Valley Park is a difficult 9-mile hike with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. From its highest peak, Montara Mountain offers stunning 360 degree views of the entire Bay Area. Getting to the top of the mountain is no easy feat.

The most popular route to Montara Mountain begins from a trailhead off of Highway 1 and follows the Montara Mountain North Peak Access Road, a steep, badly rutted fire road. While the steep climb up the mountain can be a challenge, for me the most difficult part is trying not to slip on loose gravel on my way back down the trail.

Approaching Montara Mountain from San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica is a more scenic route that greatly reduces the amount of time spent on the slippery gravel fire road. And it is my new favorite way to summit Montara Mountain! The trail will take you through lush Eucalyptus groves and thick Manzanita forests before connecting with the wide fire road that leads to the summit. On your way back you’ll walk along a creek and pass the remnants of a residence from the days when the park was a trout farm.

With a jaunt to the top of Montara Mountain, this hike is a longer and more challenging version of the Brooks Falls Loop. By continuing to the summit of Montara Mountain before looping back on the Brooks Creek Trail you extend the hike by six miles and almost 1,000 feet of elevation.

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The Trailhead

The trailhead is located in San Pedro Valley Park, next to the bathrooms, opposite from the visitor center.

The Route

From the trailhead take the trail on the right and follow the signs toward Montara Mountain. You will climb up the mountain via a series of nicely graded switchbacks. At mile 1.3 there will be a viewpoint with a bench and a trail marker for the Brooks Creek Trail. You will continue climbing on the Montara Mountain Trail until you get to the Montara Mountain North Peak Access Road trail. Continue to follow the trail up the mountain until you get to the radio towers at the top. At this point the trail splits in two and each section of the trail leads to one of the two radio towers. You can choose to visit both peaks or just one. After taking in the view, turn around and follow your steps back to the Montara Mountain Trail that you came in on. Take the Montara Mountain Trail junction and follow the trail until you reach the Brooks Creek trail junction. Take the Brooks Creek Trail back to the visitor’s center and the parking lot.

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Trail Safety

Like all outdoor pursuits, hiking can be dangerous. It is up to you to assess your fitness level and education yourself about any potential dangers. While I try to regularly update these hiking guides, you should always research trail conditions before heading out.

Being prepared means arriving at the trailhead with water and some basic provisions. Each and every time I hit the trail I bring a backpack with more water than I think I need, a small first aid kit, and a snack. I also share my itinerary and plans with friends or family and I carry an InReach so I can summon help if needed. If you want to know what I carry in my pack during day hikes check out my blog post about essential gear for day hikers.

Stay safe, enjoy the trail, and soak up the magic of nature!

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