Running Route: 7 Mile Run on the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail

I’ve run in a lot of pretty places, but the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail has worked its way into the top spot with its jagged coastline and almost-tropical fauna that had me saying, “Wow,” every 10 seconds.

I mean, does it get any better than this? 

Coastal View Run Monterey Bay Rec Trail

Oh, it does.

Because there are seals, too.

Seals Monterey Bay Recreation Trail Run

While visiting my best friend (also a runner!) in San Francisco last month, I had a 7-mile training run on my plan the day we were driving from Monterey to Big Sur. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend in Monterey, so I thought the run would let us get in additional sightseeing before we hopped in the car.

Before trips, I normally check out Map My Run and Trail Link to see if there are any routes to inspire me. I also like browsing Trip Advisor forums for ideas, and occasionally get lucky with a Google search for “running blog route + location name.”

It didn’t take too long before I learned about the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail. From the rave reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp, I knew I had our route picked out.

From our lovely Airbnb (try Airbnb using my link & get $20 in credit here!), we only had to run about half a mile downhill, past the cutest house EVER, before reaching the trail.

Cute House Monterey Bay Recreation Trail Run

And, this was the view of the sunrise we were greeted with:

Sunrise Monterey Bay Recreation Trail Run

At that point, we knew were in for a great run that would be filled with photo stops. Luckily neither of us were training for any sort of time goal because this “run” would have been a wash.

There was a stretch of trail so captivating that we stopped every 90 seconds to simply stare out at the violent sea, mesmerized as sea kayakers and sea birds darted around the mist cascading from the crashing waves.

For our 7 mile run, we did a figure-eight from our Airbnb: We headed north toward downtown Monterey before looping back south to Point Pinos Lighthouse, backtracking to where we started. Even with some out-and-backs, I wouldn’t have changed anything about our route. We got to see so much in an hour (sunrise! seals! beaches! cliffs! lighthouses!), and I could have stayed on that trail all day.

It almost made me wish I’d had a longer run on my schedule. Almost. 

Point Pinos Lighthouse Monterey Bay Recreation Trail

Route Overview

  • Location: Monterey Bay, CA
  • Distance: 29 miles of trail, and you could easily get more mileage with neighborhood loops
  • Terrain: Mostly paved, some hard-packed dirt track
  • Traffic: No cars! Pedestrian & bike traffic is quiet in the mornings, but it gets busy near Monterey later in the day
  • Water: Limited – advise you to bring your own if you’re running long
  • Bathrooms: Limited
  • Gear Required: A camera!
  • Run The World Rating: 5 Running Shoes out of 5 Running Shoes

Have you ever run the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail? What’s been your favorite place to run? 

Detailed running route in Monterey Bay, California from Meg Runs The World

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Meg Roberts
Meg Roberts is an avid runner, travel fiend, and content strategist based in Tampa, Florida. She enjoys exploring new places on foot, mile by mile. Follow along as she writes about making time to run, travel, and dabble with other hobbies, all while holding down a full-time office job that she loves.

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