Saturday, May 26, 2007

Montara Mountain - Saddle Pass

Montara Mountain has two main peaks in the Park. The main and highest peak (1899 feet high) is North Peak which I hiked on a clear sunny day. The other peak is Saddle Pass which is only 924 feet high. Since it was a very foggy morning I decided on the Saddle Pass hike today.

The hike starts at the same limited parking lot on the east side off Highway 1. From the parking lot you can hike toward the Rangers Residence or take the cut-over trail toward the Gray Whale Cove trail.
The cut-over trail provides the best views of the Montara Beach area. Along this trail you can hear the waves crashing on the beach.

After turning right on to the Gray Whale Cove Trail, you will soon be on the Old Pedro Mountain Road. The trails are VERY well marked and in good condition.
The old Pedro Trail Mountain Road is similar to the North Peak Access Road -- it was a former paved road that has slowly eroded away leaving a decent trail surface.

The trail intersects with the North Peak Access Trail, if you stay to the left you will travel on a rarely used trail around one of the hillside peaks. After this it will meet up again with the North Peak route and finally veers off to the left. This final intersection is well marked, but make sure you follow signs for "Old Pedro Mountain Road - Pacifica".

The top of Saddle pass is not marked, but you will see a single trail marker and some power towers nearby. For the BEST view from the top of Saddle Pass, take a unmarked trail toward the ocean. Pictured here:

This very narrow trail will lead to a clearing (below) where you have an great vantage point to see the Pacific. Obviously on this day, it was too foggy to see anything.

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Area - McNee Ranch - Montara State Park
Trail - Old Pedro Mountain Road
Length - 6.4 miles out and back - Moderate Hike (900' Elevation gain)
Trail - Out and Back-style, dirt trail/paved road, some stops along the way. Very well marked and maintained.
Dogs - Some
Bikes - Yes - this is a popular bike route to/from Pacifica
View - Most of the way
Getting There - Google Map North of Montara on Highway 1
Fee- None, free parking (two parking lots)
Weather - It can be very foggy during Summer
Other Trails - the other main hike is to the North Peak. The Montara State Beach is located on the west side of the highway.