Route: MapMyRide — Strava. There are three distinctive sections of this route:
Section A: Fort Ord Dunes (4.2 miles): From the intersection of Reindollar Ave & Del Monte Blvd, find a bike trail that goes south, under CA-1. Within a short distance, there is a sign for Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Enter the park and follow a paved road called Beach Range Road. This well maintained, paved road parallels Monterey Bay Coastal Trail for 4.2 miles. It is much wider and farther away from CA-1, so traffic noise is almost absent. At the end of 4.2 miles of paved road, there is 0.5 miles of unpaved road. Instead of biking along the unpaved section, turn left and join Monterey Bay Coastal Trail instead. Surprisingly, Beach Range Road is not shown in the Official Ford Ord Dunes State Park Map. However, it is shown in Google Maps for Fort Ord Dunes and MapMyRide for this route if you zoom in sufficiently. Note that in this section, the ocean is not visible due to the dunes to the west of Beach Range Road.
Section B: Through Downtown Monterey (8.4 miles): Between Fort Ord Dunes and Point Pinos Lighthouse in Monterey, Monterey Bay Coastal Trail goes through several intersections with regular roads. Expect lots of people along the trail. The trail itself is very clearly marked by signs on the ground. We were never lost. Along this section lie several interesting landmarks: Monterey State Beach (see Yelp reviesws), Monterey Harbor and Marina, downtown Monterey, Lovers Point (see Yelp reviews) and Point Pinos Lighthouse (see Yelp reviews). The bike trail ends at Ocean View Blvd.
Section C: 17-Mile Drive (5.7 miles): From Point Pinos Lighthouse to Bird Rock along 17-Mile Drive, there are bike lanes along various roads: Ocean View Blvd, Sunset Drive and 17-Mile Drive. This section of the ride is relaxing, with Pacific Ocean almost always visible. The end point is Bird Rock, which has a large parking lot and restrooms.
Traffic: Almost no traffic in Section A. Heavy traffic in Section B. Light traffic in Section C.
Climbing: No hill climbs. The route is pretty flat throughout.
Bike Trails: From the starting point to Ocean View Blvd, there is a dedicated bike trail, except for a short section to the north of Monterey State Beach (via Playa Ave → Metz Road → Tioga Ave). From Ocean View Blvd to Bird Rock, there is a comfortable bike lane.
Views: Pacific Ocean is not visible in Section A, which goes through Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Section B is characterized by lots of people on the trail and great views of jagged, rocky coastline with beaches and wharfs. Photographers would be delighted in this section. Section C is serene, with the ocean only a few feet away. There are several opportunities in this section to take a break in sand.
Water stops and restrooms? Public restrooms are available at Monterey State Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, Lovers Point, and Bird Rock. Water may be picked up from several shops along downtown Monterey. There were water fountains at some places in downtown Monterey and at Bird Rock.
Good time to visit? The whole route is unshaded. So in summers, it may get quite hot. In winters, the section along 17-Mile Drive may feel cold and windy.