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Montara Mountain from Gray Whale Cove

Bay Area

A sea-to-summit hike with panoramic views the entire way.

Hiking Moderate

9.5 km
543 m
543 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
48 m
High Point
570 m
Montara Mountain from Gray Whale Cove Map

Gray Whale Cove State Beach is a popular hiking destination of its own, but the journey up Montara Mountain quickly leaves the sea-level trails for panoramic slopes above. This hike follows trails and a fire road to reach North Peak of Montara Mountain. The road is fairly mellow gradient, but some of the trail sections are very steep and loose. Most of the trails are just shortcuts from the fire road, however, so it’s possible to avoid the steepest parts by detouring on the road.


The actual summit of Montara is occupied by signal towers, but the real highlights are the views along the way to reach it. You’ll enjoy ever-expanding vantage over craggy coast and sandy coves below, as well as the beach towns of Linda Mar and Montara—if the air is clear, that is. Foggy days bring a different and often more dramatic aura to the mountain, and can still be great for hiking. Often the fog will burn off in the afternoon, or you’ll rise above it as you hike, and end up looking down on a shrouded coast from above.

The entire hike is on open slopes with low vegetation, making for great views but no shade or shelter from the elements. Sea breezes usually keep the lower elevations cool, but the higher elevations heat up quickly in the sun. Expect rising temperatures as you ascend, and bring more water than you think you’ll need.

Sources: http://www.hiddensf.com/315c-montara-mountain-hike.html https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/532/files/SanMateoCoastBeachesParksWeb2016.pdf



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Guidebooks in this area