A Walk in the Green
Jacks Peak County Park
Neil Wiley


On your next trip to Monterey, perhaps after seeing too many fish at the aquarium or eating too many fish at your favorite restaurant, you might enjoy a short hike in Jacks Peak County Park.
 
As mountains go, Jacks Peak isnít much of a peak. Itís more like a high plateauóa very green, conifer-forested plateau with relatively easy slopes and pleasant hiking trails about a thousand feet above Monterey Bay. Ridge top vistas provide excellent views of the golden Monterey coastline from Sand City to Pacific Grove. (The highest point is 1068 feet.)

You neednít worry about climbing the mountain. Paved roads take you to the top of the ridge, with parking areas at each end of the park.

The views are nice, but the most distinctive feature of this park is the green grass of the trails. Itís like walking on a deep-piled carpet, only softer and more natural. On a hot day, you may be tempted to walk barefoot. Itís that comfortable.

This is reputed to be a good place to see birds, too, although we didnít see many on our rainy day hike. Smarter than we were, the birds stayed inside. We did see some common variety robins, jays, chickadees, turkey vultures, etc., but the more shy birds hid in spite of our master birder Bruce Elliottís bird calls.

Even with few birds, the hike was interesting, offering a variety of forest environments. The deep shade, dark green colors, and ocean breezes would make this an especially good hike for the summer months.
Although the park covers 525 acres, the 8.5 miles of trails consist of many short trails of a mile or less. A favorite is the Skyline self-guided nature trail featuring fossils from the Miocene epoch. Youíll also walk through the largest remaining stand of Monterey pines in the world. The understudy includes ceanothus, coyote brush, toyon, coffeeberry, and the ubiquitous poison oak. Youíll also see many trees draped with beautiful and distinctive lichen.

Jacks Peak is easy to find. Drive down Highway 1 to Monterey, turn east on Highway 68 (Monterey-Salinas Highway), turn right on Olmsted Road (0.9 miles), then turn left on Jacks Peak Drive (0.2 miles).
For more information, call 888-588-2267 or visit www.co.monterey.ca.us/parks/Jacks_Peak.htm.

Hours vary throughout the year, but the park opens at 10 or 11 a.m., with closing from 5 to 7 p.m. Entrance fee per vehicle is $3.00, Mondays through Fridays, $4.00 on weekends and holidays.

Add Jacks Peak County Park to your next Monterey outing. I believe youíll enjoy your walk in the green.

 

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