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Salinas River State Beach

Dune Trail

2 miles round trip

Mile-long Dune Trail explores some of Monterey Bay’s intriguing sand dunes and links two coastal access points of Salinas River State Beach. The dunes back the state beach, a popular fishing spot.

East of the dunes are croplands and wetlands in the former Salinas River channel, which extends south from Moss Landing to the Salinas River Wildlife Area; in 1908, farmers diverted its course in order to create additional farmland.

Dune Trail begins south of the harbor of Moss Landing, often a surprisingly good place to watch for wildlife: sea otters paddle here and there, sea lions bask on a narrow finger of sand, pelicans are abundant on air and land and sea.

From the harbor, walkers can follow a 0.5 mile dirt road (closed to vehicles) south to the Salinas River State Beach access and parking area off Potrero Road, where Dune Trail officially begins.

The path is over soft sand, seasonally colored by lupine, Indian paintbrush and California poppy. Hikers get mostly inland views, though the path does crest a rise for a peek at the coast. A mile out, you have the choice of retracing your steps or returning via the beach.

Please heed all posted warnings and don’t walk over those areas of the dunes’ complex undergoing environmental restoration.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 1 at Moss Landing, exit on Portero Road and follow it 0.5 mile to the parking lot at Salinas River State Beach.

The other trailhead is off Molera Road. Follow signed Monterey Dunes Way 0.5 mile to the beach.

Warning: Both trailheads have been the site of vehicle break-ins. Lock your car and take your valuables with you.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at