Frankly you cannot go wrong on any of the hikes along the Pacific Coast from Monterey down deep into Big Sur. I’ve done Point Lobos a few times, and camped out one night at Andrew Molera State Park. Truly gorgeous, though crowded on the weekends.
A few samplings from the See Monterey blog post:
Point Lobos State Reserve: This beautiful promontory has been called “the crown jewel of the State Park system.” It’s also an inviting hiking spot, with convenient trails that allow hikers to go for short scenic walks or long traipses.
I always advise folks to find a weekday, or as Dan Mitchell found out once, stop by just before sunset, after the folks have bailed.
Toro Park: If you’re looking for a strenuous climb with a great view, try Toro Park’s Ollason Peak. It provides sweeping views of Monterey Bay and the Salinas Valley, and in the right season abounds with wildflowers.
The best high-up views south of Monterey let you see the curvature of California’s coastline — you can actually match the landscape to mental images of how the state looks on a map. I doubt there are many more places in the United States where you can do this.
Keep in mind it starts getting hot really fast when you stray far from the coast in the summertime.
Hiking Big Sur is another excellent resource.
- Where do you hike when it’s really hot? From last Friday.
- Bur Sur, for sure. (My camp-out at Andrew Molera State Park, summer 2005.)
- Point Lobos on a weekday in mid-September. Short hikes and nature gawking, 2007.