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    Montara Mountain
    (Monday, May 26, 2003 in Pacifica, CA)

    See also my photo album from this hike.

    Previous Hike (Dawn Falls) | Trip Home

    Montara Mountain, as seen from the parking lot 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.

    View north from the summit of Montara Mountain 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 mountain.

    Hiking down from Montara Mountain 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!

    Hike Stats:
    Distance: 7mi
    Total Time: 3h 49m (including about 30min stopped to take pictures and soak in the summit views)
    Elevation gain: ~1,800 feet
    Difficulty: 7
    Scenery: 9
    Trail condition/markings/etc: 7 - very well-marked, but in poor shape in places
    Wildflowers: 6
    Overall rating: 8.5

    Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
    Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul
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