In the middle of January Anil and I went for a hike to the top of Montara Mountain, which provides spectacular views of San Francisco Bay Area.
The top of the mountain can be reached either via trails originating in San Pedro Valley County Park or in McNee Ranch State Park. The former we hiked in September 2010, and the latter will be described in this post.
The trailhead for the hike is located around 4 miles south of Pacifica, just after the Devil's Slide. There is a small parking lot with enough space for around 20-30 cars, which is located on the east side of the road. On weekends it fills up quickly, so I would recommend getting there before 10 am.
The trailhead elevation is around 100 ft, and the top of the mountain is at 1898 ft. This means 3800 ft of elevation change over 7.5 miles, which takes around 3-3.5h to hike (including a picnic at the top).
The hike is pretty strenuous and there are hardly any flatter parts. Luckily, views all along the way are very beautiful, so on the way up one can take many short breaks to enjoy them, without feeling guilty for pausing so often.
The last third of the hike utilizes the same fire road as the hikes originating in San Pedro Valley and the views from the top are exactly the same for both hikes. Compared to the San Pedro Valley hike, the McNee Ranch hike is more exposed and a bit more monotonous. Therefore, if you have time only for one of these hikes, I would recommend the hike starting in San Pedro Valley County Park over this one.
Pacifica and San Francisco:
The top of Montara Mountain: