Our Trail of the Week feature is made possible through a partnership with Trail Run Project, a crowd-sourced collaboration by and for the running community. Thanks to Paul Jurasin for mapping and describing this route.
This route, which combines sections of the Rattlesnake Flats Trail and the Coon Creek Loop Trail, is entirely within Montana de Oro State Park in Central California. It combines amazing rugged coastal bluffs with a steep climb through coastal oak and back down to the coast through a lush riparian valley. The trail is generally in excellent condition throughout. The coastal bluff is wide singletrack, well groomed and can be more crowded than the narrow rocky climb on the Rattlesnake Flats section.
The trailhead is just past the Spooners Cove ranger station on the right (ocean) side of the road. Parking is available near the trailhead on the roadside.
The first 2 miles of this amazingly scenic run is on a relatively flat, wide trail located on a bluff 50 feet above the rocky ocean shoreline. This section of the route is known as the Bluff Trail. At 2 miles, the Bluff Trail ends at a parking lot with restrooms.
From the parking lot, run 100 yards northward along the Pecho Valley Road where the entrance to the Rattlesnake Flats trail begins. This trail segment is anything but flat. The narrow singletrack winds first through rolling terrain covered in scrub. After 1/4 mile, the trail begins its climb through a beautiful, rocky valley before rising to a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The trail winds along the ridge for nearly a mile before steeply dropping through several switchbacks to the Coon Creek Trail.
At the Coon Creek Trail intersection, turn right as the terrain becomes a gentle downhill singletrack through a lush canopy of greenery surrounded by impressive rocky cliffs on both sides of the trail. After winding down the trail for another mile or so, the Bluff trail intersection at the parking lot appears followed by a return along the rugged coastline for a 2-mile run the car.
Runnable: 95 percent
Average Grade: 4 percent
Max Grade: 23 percent
Total Ascent: 703 feet
Total Descent: -707 feet
Highest Elevation: 539 feet
For a closer look, check out the interactive map, data, photos courtesy of Trail Run Project: