A thousand feet above Monterey is a county park called Jack’s Peak. With 8.5 miles of trails and the sweet smell of Monterey Pines, this is great place to meet nature and savor some views of Monterey Bay. However, it is also above the airport. It was a little noisy from traffic and planes on the north side of the hill.
The sign said 3323 acres and the brochure says 525 acres – the sign also had a flower misnamed – so with my handy miles/acres converter, I’m going to guess – about 525 acres.
There are many trails to choose from – the map shows elevation changes, if that matters to you. We started from the Jacks Peak parking lot (going right after the entrance kiosk, depositing $4). Usually the Nature Trail is the easiest and flattest – this one was not as it had steps and switchbacks. The trailhead was graced with blooming strawberries.
The forest looked a little scruffy. Poison oak was abundant. Young oaks were starting to grow. This pine made a fine arc.
Here was our first trail choice. We stayed on Skyline. Coffeeberry does grow on the hillsides along with toyon, manzanita and live oaks. This sign says no horses – not sure which ones they can go on.
The trail is mostly a wide dirt path. As our chosen path curved around, we came to a spot of layered shale. It had crumbled away – perhaps with some help from people looking for fossils. There is an interpretive sign here. Other numbered spots along the trail had lost their information.
Fuchsia, manroot and hedge nettles were blooming. With trails through a shady forest, it’s not an extravagant wildflower site. There are other rewards.
More trail choices – a straight line on Jack’s Peak Trail –
On the backside of the ridge, we were now away from the traffic noise and had views of the mountains south. (I’d love to show you – but those pictures lie in the history of an accidentally erased camera card.)
A new fragrant bush appeared – sage.
More trail decision, looking back from where we came . The caution of Poison Oak is soooo true.
Imagine more views of the mountains here. The live oaks are large. If you look down, there are monkey flowers and morning glories. Here’s a footstep-of-spring. We usually see this on the coastal bluff top in a shorter ground hugging version.
Almost at the end of our loop on the nature trail is this picnic area. There’s also one under the trees in the shade. Our loop on the Nature Trail was about a mile.
We drove to the east parking lot for our lunch. Some of the picnic sites come with views, some under the trees and this one had a small gnome-sized home.
Apparently, the trails here accommodate horses as this water is for horses (and dogs.)
It is so wonderful to find a fine park away from the busy-ness of Monterey. Trails are easy and the smell is wonderful.
You may be wondering, why such a short walk. This day we started at the beach in Carmel, walked here, walked at Garland Ranch and the Carmel River. So we’re not done yet. Stay tuned for more.
Words and pictures by Lynn Millar
Location: 25020 Jacks Peak Park Road, Monterey, CA Map. Entrance fee $4/vehicle.
Warning: Plenty of poison oaks – and I’ll assume ticks, though most trails wide enough to avoid. Park closes in high winds.
Picnic: Yes, near the parking lots both east and at Jacks Peak. BBQ only in the east picnic grounds.
Benches: Yes, usually view oriented.
Bathrooms: Yes, flush, cold water.
Wheelchair: Some paths have steps, some are narrow. Picnic table at east end accommodates access.
Dogs: on leash.