Adventures on the trail

With busy college schedules and the stress of trying to find a balance between life and school, adventures can be an outlet. Hiking serves as a way to escape the bustle of life and surrender to nature. From the trails, perspectives change simultaneously in a mindset shift and in the views of places below or onward. In many ways, hiking has the ability to bring connection. Whether that connection is with nature, one’s own self, or with people you choose to walk beside. In an effort to share more beautiful and enjoyable hiking spots with others, I write this with your adventures in mind. 

Jacks Peak is a park located in Monterey, 7.3 miles from California State University, Monterey Bay. The park includes a beautiful 8.5 miles of trail, with 11 trails to choose from that are available for hikers and horseback riders. The park’s closing times change monthly, however, the opening time of 8 a.m. stays consistent. Most trails at Jacks Peak are short and are great for individuals looking to get into hiking or who are just looking to see Monterey from a different angle. 

Landscape photo of treetops, blue sky, and clouds.
Photo by Emme Ryffel

If you are interested in a scenic short hike that encompasses all the beauty the Monterey Peninsula offers, I would recommend the Jacks Peak and Skyline trails. This trail is short, reaching 0.8 miles with fantastic vistas such as the one above. This trail also connects to the Rhus trail loop. The path offers a continuation of the scenic views in a 2.3 mile trek. 

One of the longer trails I would recommend is Jacks Peak via Olmsted Road. This is a 5.2 mile trail that starts at the bottom entry point of Jacks Peak and ascends into the County Park. After this, the trail continues in a loop returning hikers and runners back down to where they first started. This trail offers great views, possible interactions with wildlife, and a 1,099-foot elevation gain. During the wildflower season (March – May), a variety can be found along this trail in a beautiful display. 

Jacks Peak also has many opportunities to see wildlife specific to the area. The Monterey Pine can only be found in three coastal areas. Monterey Pines tower over the Jacks Peak trails in an epic display. Often parallel with the Monterey weather, there is a fog-covered sky, and sometimes deer will shoot out of the moss-covered forest. Jacks Peak is also known for its variety of birds that you can often see in the park. 

Picnic areas found adjacent to Jack’s Peak can provide a great spot to enjoy a meal in nature. Grills are located near some of the picnic tables as well. There might be a $2 entrance fee as pointed out on the website, however, every time I have been there, no gate attendee or fee has been required. 

Jacks Peak is a wonderful spot to spend time hiking and enjoy being in nature. With the wide range of species that call this parkhome, there is always something to look out for. This includes poison oak, which you should watch out for throughout the park. If you are thinking of visiting Jacks Peak, remember to leave no trace and to look out for those beautiful Monterey Pines. 

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