Central Coast Dog Walks
Marina Dunes: Miles of Beach for You and Your Leashed Dog
by Scott Broecker
Roughly 10 miles north of Monterey is a beautiful district park right in the heart of the bay called the Marina Dunes Preserve. At the start of the long sand trail to the beach you are immediately struck by the rising dunes. You will also notice the sign welcoming leashed dogs and the handy white box of complimentary mutt mitts. At one time you could hike on a few small trails to the right, but now due to a dune restoration project and newly installed fence your only option is to hike along the remnants of the old sand plant road. Along the way you are likely to see a variety of wild flowers such as poppies and Indian Paintbrush as well as a variety of lizards, seabirds, and jackrabbits.
You and your dog will walk up a nice, wide, gently rising trail that takes you about 400 yards straight to a promenade above the beach. From there you have a fabulous panoramic view of the Bay and a choice of which direction to hike. If you take a moment to scan the bay, you may be fortunate enough to see a pod of frolicking dolphins or a spouting whale.
Once you are on the beach, you can hike in either direction. You will want to note that dogs are not allowed on Marina State Beach just one mile to the south or on the Salinas River State Beach several miles to the north.
You do want to take precautions when you get near the water. The drop off at the shoreline is steep and the surf is almost always powerful and dangerous, especially at high tide. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, he could find himself in trouble in these waters.
Remember to bring enough water for you and your dog. It can get surprisingly hot trekking across the sand. Here’s to happy trails and wagging tails!
Directions: Driving South on Highway 1, take exit 410 Reservation Rd., turn right on Reservation Rd. and a right on Dunes Road. Driving north on Highway 1, take exit 410 Reservation Rd., make a left toward the ocean and travel back under the highway, then take a right on Dunes Road.
Go to the end of Dunes Road about 1/4 mile. Marina Dunes RV Park is on the right. The trailhead is adjacent to the RV Park. You can park on either side of the street at the end of the cul de sac.