Getaway to Montara Mountain, North Peak

Encompassing Views of Montara Mountain, North Peak

Looking west at Pacifica and the Pacific Ocean

Our little team has been wanting to do some more #Nifty Ninety Peaks, but we were in agreement that we didn’t want to do them in the 90+ degree conditions of the inland valleys. Since the weather pattern of the S.F. Bay Area brings fog to  San Francisco and nearby coastal areas during the summer, we just had to wait for our opportunity. That happened the last weekend of July.  

There were two peaks down the S.F. Peninsula that were reasonably close together — Montara Mountain (North Peak) and Chalk Mountain. These would be peaks #74 and #75 for us. And since driving to either one involved a long drive from where we live, we decided to do the two peaks on one trip. That necessitated finding a place to stay overnight. Our hiking partner Tom, made reservations for all of us at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, near Pescadero. 
 
We elected to hike Montara Mountain along the San Mateo coast first. Another friend, Patricia, had researched various roads into the hills and had selected the trails that we would follow.
 
Finding the trail head wasn’t difficult — from Highway I, the Coast Highway, we turned east onto Linda Mar Blvd. As we drove up the hill to San Pedro Valley County Park, we appreciated that starting from the park would save us about 400 feet of the climb to the 1,898′ summit.
We paid our $6 parking fee (free weekdays for seniors) and parked. We had a two trails to choose from initially. The Trout Farm and the Brooks Creek were basically parallel and about the same length, so we decided to start of the Trout Farm and end on the Brooks Creek. Most of our route, however, was an out and back one. 

A bit of history 

The Trout Farm Trail took us past a few picnic table and benches. We found some informational signs that described what the Trout Farm had been — a place where visitors could come to picnic and fish. John and Mary Gay ran the farm. John built several round tanks for raising fish, and a fishing pond. Families rented poles, then stood or sat on logs alongside a pond, and would be charged according to the size of any fish caught. The trout farm was operated by John Gay until 1962, when storm rains washed out the operation; today, only a few pieces of the breeding ponds remain.

Back on the trail

The trail ascended alongside the south fork of San Pedro Creek for a while. We could hear, but rarely see the water, but assume it would be roaring during the rainy season. The seasonal water is part of Pacifica’s water supply and is a major steelhead trout habitat.  

At 0.5 miles along, our trail met the Brook Creek Trail. Turning left, we continued uphill. I was impressed at how well maintained the trail was and appreciated the fact that we had switchbacks to make it easy. Another 0.7 miles uphill, we met the Montara Mountain Trail, and turned left, uphill again.

The Montara Mtn. Trail took us out of the county park and into McNee Ranch State Park. The trail was still fairly good and it took us up to Montara Mountain Road. We turned left on the wide fire road to ascend the final mile to Montara Mountain North Peak. As has frequently been the case, the very top of the mountain was surrounded by a chain link fence keeping visitors from a cell tower. Nevertheless, we were stop for a break and eat our lunches. 

Views from the peak and along the way, had been great — depending where we were standing, we could see down into Pacifica, out to sea, miles of wild open space, across the the channel to Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, and across San Francisco Bay to Mount Diablo. 


Back downhill

The descent was easy — we retraced our steps until we came to the intersection of Brooks Creek and Trout Farm where we kept left to stay on Brooks Creek. Total distance was 8-8.5 miles. 

Then we headed for our accommodations for the night — the Pigeon Point Hostel & Lighthouse. The following day we were set to go on Peak #75— Chalk Mountain, a bit further south on Highway 1. Link is here

hiked: 7/28/2019 Peak #74 for us

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