California Central Coast

Morro Bay: Beach, Coastal Path, Hill Running

Morro Bay is one of our other favorite running spots on the central California coast. There’s something for everyone here: gorgeous beach running, a coastal road/path, scenic and challenging trail running in the hills above the bay, and some decent running in town.

Beach Running. There are two great options here. Morro Strand State Beach is the best known. The favored route follows the course of the Brian Waterbury Memorial Rock to Pier Run. Starting out at the scenic “volcanic plug” known as Morro Rock, ontinue north on a beautiful stretch of wide, flat beach until arriving at the pier in the village of Cayucos. Up to 6 miles one-way. The sand is reliably compact, especially around low tide. ROUTE MAP

Another option is to run on the more rugged and secluded Morro Bay State Park beach. It’s ~5 miles of scenic beach running, combining Sandspit Beach. Note that the beach can be accessed via trails from Los Osos or Montaña de Oro State Park.

Peninsula Path. Google Street View

Coastal Path & Road. Up to 3.6 miles one-way.  A scenic and flat coastal run, combining a boardwalk loop around Marina Peninsula, then heading south on Main St. and the Embarcadero to Coleman Park and Morro Rock. ROUTE MAP

Highway 1/Cabrillo Highway. The coastal highway runs right along the water between Morro Bay and Cayucos. This scenic stretch is ~5 miles. Although very busy with cars, there’s a good shoulder. Watch for cyclists!

Trail Running in the Hills. Runners who want a challenge will head up to Black Hill, just east of the Golf Course. There are extensive additional hill trails in Morro Bay State Park in the Park Ridge area. Good trailhead is Cerro Cabrillo Trail, just off S Bay Rd. These are hilly trails but they’re wide and the footing is good — very runnable. Beautiful, open terrain with great views. NOTE: Watch out for mountain bikers!

Running in Town. There’s a paved multi-use path that goes for 1.8 miles from the Morro Bay Beach parking lot on Azure St. to Quintana Rd., passing through Cloisters Community Park, and paralleling Highway 1. You can combined this with residential side streets, our coastal route, and the Morro Strand State Beach for a longer run.


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