// Exploring the Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Trail
Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2012
Written by Cheryl Carmo
The fall is a perfect time to visit the Monterey Bay. Beauty, fun and adventure are at the tips of your fingers. It offers places to stay, dining, night life, plenty of activities, shopping and, of course, bicycling. The weather during this visit in September was a mixture of mild, marine-cool mornings, sunny afternoons, and only very light wind. Monterey County is an agricultural heartland with splashes of luxury, romance and artistry. Beaches, golf, bike riding, wildlife preserves, and so much more are within minutes of downtown Monterey. The Dunes in Marina, the Steinbeck country of Salinas and Big Sur redwoods open up our senses and experiences unlike anywhere else in the world.
Our ride began on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail at about 11:45 am from the Monterey Portola Plaza at Fisherman’s Wharf. Heading south on the trail, we rode the coastal path to the Wildlife Observation Point where the sea lions bask in the sun on the rocks. The path took us by San Carlos Beach and the scuba dive training area in Breakwater Cove. We continued on through the Cannery Row shopping district where there’s plenty to see and do. If you haven’t already been, you must see the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The trail is family friendly, with riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
There are plenty of stopping points along the path where you can take a break, rest on a bench, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and take in the views of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Just a bit further up harbor seals hang out on the rocks along the coastline. Lovers Point Park and Beach in Pacific Grove is just around the corner. The bike path ends here, but riders can continue on along Ocean View Blvd.
The views are breathtaking along Ocean View Blvd. We rode by Pacific Grove Golf Course and the Lighthouse Preservation. We did stop at Point Pinos Lighthouse for a tour on our way back from our ride to Spanish Bay. This is the first time I’ve gone by the PGGC and not played! Sunset Drive continues along the shoreline and through Asilomar State Beach and Asilomar Dunes Natural Preserve. As we rode around the bend, the sights of the Peninsula just took my breath away. The Inn at Spanish Bay was in view and, even though I was a bit tired, it only took a few moments to take a break, drink more water, and then I had the energy to get to my destination. We rode up Sunset Drive to the 17 Mile Drive entrance. No fees for bikes!
We made it to the Inn at Spanish Bay where I really needed to take a break. By the way, there are places to stop along the Coastal path to take a restroom break. We rode up to the entrance at about 1:50 pm, and we were greeted with a nice welcome. It was easy enough to leave our bikes with the valets, go freshen up, and order a thirst-quenching Guinness from the hotel lobby bar. It was so gorgeous outdoors that we decided to take our beverages, sit and relax on the outdoor patio, and watch a couple of groups play the ninth hole. (Items to always carry in your pocket: ID, medical card, credit card, and cash).
We left SBGC about 2:30 and headed back, but, instead of riding along the coast, we took another familiar route along 17 Mile Drive through Pacific Grove, turning on Lighthouse Ave back toward Pacific Grove GC. (Another convenient place to stop and take a break. I’m thinking of a way to rig my golf bag to my bicycle). Countless times we’ve played PGGC with a view of the Pt. Pinos Lighthouse at each hole on the back nine. This time I saw it differently. On a bike you see so much more. We watched a couple of groups hit tee shots at the 16th tee box steps away from the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse happened to be open, so we went in for the tour. The docents are very knowledgeable and friendly. I highly recommend taking time to stop for a visit and the tour. We spent about an hour here. It is fascinating history.
Our journey took us back to the Monterey Plaza at about 5:00, but I wanted just a bit more of a ride, so we decided to take the path north along the coast, where the path ends at Moss Landing. Although we didn’t ride up that far, I still wanted to get in as much as I could before the sun went down since this was our only day to get in our ride. We rode past the Municipal Wharf (which we rode through on our way back) and toward Monterey State Beach. There was a small climb up to the dunes, but once I got there I was so glad I did, as the views were amazing. We rode back to the Plaza at about 6:00 pm. We freshened up and, although there are so many restaurants to choose from, we walked up the block to one of our favorites – The Crown & Anchor. Thanks to the Portola Hotel & Spa for their hospitality and fabulous accommodations.
I’m looking forward to getting back to the Monterey Bay, ride and explore more of the beautiful scenery that this world-class destination has to offer.