See also my photo album
from this hike.
(Monday, May 26, 2003 in Pacifica, CA)
Previous Hike (Dawn Falls) | Trip Home
Sarah and I arrived at the relatively empty parking lot and started hiking at
11:55. We had a view of Montara Mountain right from the start - it didn't
look toooo far above us, perhaps 1500 feet or so. We headed out on the
Montara Mountain trail through a lovely grove of young eucalyptus trees. The
weather was absolutely perfect - sunny and clear (very rare for Pacifica!),
about 70 degrees. As we climbed gently, but constantly, views of the town of
Pacifica opened up below us. A few hikers passed us, but there were otherwise
few people on the trail, a little surprising for such a lovely Memorial Day!
The terrain turned to chapparal and the views just kept getting better and
better. We passed the junction with the Brooks Creek Trail (which we were
planning on taking on our trip back to see Brooks Creek Falls) and continued
hiking along a pretty ridge. There were a few benches on the trail, and we
stopped at one of them to enjoy the view and have a quick snack.
The trail soon narrowed considerably and the climbing got a bit more serious
as we zig-zagged up the mountainside on a rocky, rutted singletrack. Here I
was wishing for more substantial shoes than the Tevas I was wearing, as the
going was a bit rough for lightweight sandals! There were lots of flowers
along the way, and the views continued to improve, reaching out to Mt.
Tamalpais, which kept us distracted from the climb. Our singletrack ended at
the Montara Mountain fireroad,
which we headed east on towards the summit. There were more people here, some
with dogs, and a few mountain bikers, but it was still by no means crowded.
After a mile or so of more constant climbing, we got to the summit area. It
wasn't clear exactly which high point was the summit, so we visited all of
them to take in the different views. A nice mountain biker took our picture, a butterfly posed for me, and we had
fantastic views of Half Moon Bay,
Pacifica, Mt. Tamalpais, the Marin
Headlands, San Francisco and the north peninsula, and the east bay,
including Mount Diablo far off in
the distance. After spending a while at the summit, we headed back down the
There were many more people climbing the trail as we descended - I guess we
just got an early start (and I'm glad we did!). As we downhiked, we saw a
really strange visual anomoly
over the water - we could only guess that it was the shadow of a jet trail.
It looked quite odd regardless! We went back the way we came until we got to
the junction with the Brooks Creek Trail and we turned right on that. It was
a lovely little trail that had a nice overlook where Brooks Creek Falls would be visible
if it had much water in it, which it didn't. We could (barely) hear water
falling, but unless we squinted, we couldn't see any water at all. It would
be a lovely sight after a big storm, no doubt. We didn't mind that it was
practically dry, however, as the views from the mountain are the real meat of
this hike. As we neared the parking lot, another butterfly posed for me, this time
letting me get really close - cool! We got back to a completely full parking
lot, with many, many folks having picnics and BBQs - this was more what I
expected on a Memorial Day.
This was a sweet hike for sure, and the weather was an unexpected treat! Next
time I do this hike (which will be after a big storm so there's water in the
falls!), it'd be fun to park a car at Montara Beach and do a shuttle hike,
returning from the summit by hiking all the way down the fireroad to the
beach. All in all, this is a highly recommended peninsula hike!
||3h 49m (including about 30min stopped to take pictures and soak in
the summit views)
||7 - very well-marked, but in poor shape in places