Top 20 Runs on the California Coast

As the weather cools in other parts of the United States, it has us thinking about the perpetual sunshine of the California Coast. From our coverage of California, there are some 100 routes along the water — from pristine beaches, to festive boardwalks, and city streets with killer views of marinas and bays. The common theme is that the route has something to to with the Pacific Ocean: along it or a view of it. This list pulls from our guides from north to south: San Francisco, Oakland/East Bay, Silicon Valley, Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. We’ve also added a few routes that are off the beaten path, but worth a visit on any tour of the coast. The list below is our Top 20 Runs On the California Coast, while we also put together a list of all our California Coastal routes. The Map below is a compendium of all our California coastal routes.

All California Coast Runs

NOTE: Click ‘Page Back’ Button to get back from a route to this list. On Map, click box on top right for full page view or slider on left for routes by from north to south in the state.

Mackerricher State Park

California Coast: All Routes

Mackerricher State Park is one of the last opportunities for a long coastal run in Mendocino before northern California blends into Oregon. The highlight is the five mile Haul Road Trail, a former coastal route stretching from Fort Bragg to Inglenook.
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Point Reyes

California Coast: All Routes

If you are near San Francisco, one of the most memorable detours you can take is up to Point Reyes, the National Seashore just north of the bay. The best trail for glimpses of the sea is the Coast Trail.
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Berkeley Marina

Oakland/Berkeley (East Bay), CA

Wonderful running in this area, 2 miles west of downtown Berkeley. A series of three parks and 8+ miles waterside trails along shores, tidal marshes, and beaches, with views out to SF Bay, the Berkeley Yacht Harbor, and South Sailing Basin.
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Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail

Silicon Valley, CA

Worth a detour. Half Moon Bay is an idyllic coastal town about 20 min. off the highway. Home to Mavericks, the famous surfing beach. A 4+ mile coastal trail makes for a fantastic run, with great views to the beach, surf, and cliffs to the north. Cute town, too.
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Morro Bay

California Coast: All Routes

The San Luis Obispo area, though not as popular among tourists as its surrounding cities, is a fantastic destination for a beach run. The favored route follows the 6 mile course of the Brian Waterbury Memorial Rock to Pier Run.
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Santa Barbara Waterfront Run

Santa Barbara, CA

The classic Santa Barbara run, through the most Instagram-worthy spots in the city: Andree Clark Bird Refuge, the Cabrillo bike path, Stearns Wharf Pier, and Butterfly Beach. Lots of options for variety - can add Harbor & Shoreline Dr. for extra 2+ miles.
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Crystal Cove State Park

Orange County, CA

Run a beach and a canyon all in one run! Fantastic state park has a 2.5+ mile paved coastal trail and 10+ miles of backcountry trails in Moro Canyon. You can enjoy the promenade, with great views, or do a more strenuous trail run with 2,000 feet elevation gain!
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Ocean beach/Sunset Cliffs

San Diego, CA

Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach is a great place to run in San Diego, staying high on windy cliffs with great views. A real treat at sunset. At the end of the road, hike down the cliffs onto the beach.
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