Monterey County has a number of interesting places to hike in, but for my money, the best location to explore is the Partington Cove Trail. The “trail” explores a great part of Monterey County’s history, namely that of the bootlegging past that existed during prohibition. The trail is located two miles North from the entrance to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park; or roughly five miles South of the Nepanthe Restaurant/Store complex. The trailhead is not marked, so visitors will want to look for a metal gate on the West side of Highway 1; as well as any cars parked near or around such a gate. If you park on the East side, take care crossing the Highway 1, as there are frequent distracted drivers not looking for pedestrians.

Partington Cove

From the metal gate, the trail is wide and flat down to the coast. Once you are down the hill, you will be by an interpretive kiosk, where the trail will fork off into three separate directions. The first will take you down towards a small cove where the trail dead-ends. The second will take you over a wooden bridge, through a forested grove, and through the tunnel to the remains of the pier at Partington Cove. The third will take you upstream along the Partington Creek. I’d recommend that one heads down to the smaller cove, before heading back to the trail junction and walking through the tunnel down to Partington Cove. At the cove, there’s a bench where you can watch the waves; and plenty of rocks to scramble around on depending on how high the tide is. If you’re looking around, you can also find the old eyebolts and moorings from the pier that used to exist here. Once you’re done exploring the area, return the way you came. While the hill isn’t that steep, this is where you will get somewhat of a workout. Roundtrip, you are looking at a little bit over one mile.


The tunnel through the rock to the old pier was initially used to carry out tanbark by mules; and was also used by bootleggers during prohibition to bring their product ashore and to the local population. The tunnel is what really makes this an interesting hike in my book, as it allows one to imagine all sorts of interesting scenarios that occurred in this region. If you’ve got something to eat; the bench at the end of the trail at the cove is a great place to relax and watch the world go by free from the crowds that throng the more popular 17 mile drive.

Cove Entrance