Toro County Park is a small park to the southwest of Salinas, California. Its primary attraction seems to be the abundant picnic and BBQ areas which attract big groups and families on nice weekends. But beyond the picnic areas are some nice trails that get you up on ridge lines and summits with great views of the coastal ranges around Monterey.

Trip Report

Last weekend I headed out there with my friend Karl to hike a loop around several of the named peaks in the park. The hike was 12.3 miles long with 3500 ft of elevation gain.

Foggy Day in Toro County Park

I had been out there once before, on a hot day in 2008. We intended to hike all the way to Simas Peak on that outing, but the exposed ridge lines and steep climbs had us going through our water faster than expected and we turned around about 1/2 mile short of the peak.

This time, it was a cool foggy day and I knew we’d have a much easier time. Sure enough, we cranked up the Toyon Ridge trail and quickly found ourselves on top of Eagle Peak. Unfortunately the fog blocked any view, but I definitely enjoyed the comfortable hiking temperature.

First Peak of the day

From Eagle, we hiked on a bit further, then took a sharp left when we reached the Ollason Peak trail. This is about where I had turned around in 2008, but this time it was easy. The sun was finally out, but a cool ocean breeze made the hike comfortable and not miserable.

Looking back on Ollason Peak

Looking back on Ollason Peak

We’d continue along the ridge to Simas Peak, following it’s rollercoaster up and downs. Although the net elevation difference between the trailhead and the summit is under 1700 ft, my GPS read a gross total of 3500 ft of gain on the hike. The constant ups and downs really can add a lot of effort!

The exposed ridge to Simas Peak

The exposed ridge to Simas Peak

After tagging Simas, we looped back over Ollason Peak and back down to the trailhead along a nice gradually descending canyon trail.

Heading off of Ollason Peak

Heading off of Ollason Peak

If You Go

  • This park gets HOT in the summer. The trails are largely exposed and steep. Bring more water than you expect to need, sunscreen, and a hat. I couldn’t believe the number of people I saw without a bottle or bag with basic trail necessities.
  • The map provided by the park looks like something hand scribbled by a 5-year-old and then poorly photocopied. It is not very intuitive, there is no scale, and half the trails are missing. Be good at reading terrain and bring supplementary navigation materials (such as my track linked below) if this concerns you.
  • There is an $8 admission fee on the weekends. However, there is free parking just outside of the park gates and you can walk in for free.
Categories: Trip Reports

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Mountain sports addict. Dog Mom. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +


Edie Howe · March 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I grew up in Salinas, and visited this park as part of a field trip; sadly, I never knew there were hiking trails. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca!

Petesthousandpeaks Ptp · March 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Sounds like a few more peaks I’ll have to go by to bag! Thanks for the information, sweet that you found and did these. Though it may be a longer time hiking, than for you, 3,500 feet of gain in a day, being what I used to do not too long ago, doesn’t give me too much spare time and energy to enjoy other attractions of Monterey!

Roaming Toro County Park: Simas, Eagle and Ollason Peaks (Monterey / Salinas) | AlphaRoaming · April 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm

[…] Back a few weeks ago, after chatting with a small group of local friends about weekend plans, Rebecca and I headed out to Toro County Park to summit the high points. Her blog post is here: […]

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