The California Coastal Trail has long been one of my favorites and I’ve written more about this trail than about any other: eight books, more than one hundred newspaper and magazine stories, and who knows how many blog posts and online articles. And I’m far from done! I’m going to keep walking and writing and speaking until we have an official signposted California Coastal Trail along the shore from Mexico to Oregon.

On a recent hike along the California Coastal Trail across the bluffs above Santa Barbara, it occurred to me that I enjoy the pathway as much or more now as when I began walking it and writing about it 30 years ago. I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to walk the 1,600 length of the California Coastal Trail, pioneer a route, and encourage others to take a hike along the state’s splendid shoreline.

The Trailmaster was delighted to learn of a new video series about the California Coastal Trail, viewable online at KCET Link. Check out the intriguing and inspiring “California Coastal Trail,” described as a digital field guide that highlights the beaches, environmental efforts and travel destinations of San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo counties.

Partially funded by The California Coastal Conservancy, “California Coastal Trail” is sharing new content on an almost daily basis now through Labor Day. The program is produced by Thomas Rigler; his Rigler Creative team brought the acclaimed “City Walk” to television.

In the early 1980s, I helped found the California Coastal Trails Foundation to advocate for the California Coastal Trail. The State Coastal Conservancy offered some modest funding and helped the Foundation create maps of the route and some information kiosks. I scouted a route for the California Coastal Trail and wrote the first guidebook to the proposed statewide pathway, California Coastal Trails.

My favorite book is a narrative about walking the length of the coast, A Walk Along Land’s End. The most recent of my efforts is Coast Walks: Santa Barbara, published in 2014.

John McKinney’s Books About the California Coastal Trail

A Walk Along Land's End (HarperCollins 1995) by John McKinney is the story of his 1,600-mile hike along the California Coastal Trail.
A Walk Along Land’s End (HarperCollins)

A Walk Along Land’s End: Discovering California’s Living Coast by John McKinney (1995, HarperCollins) In what became an “adventure of a lifetime,” intrepid nature writer and admitted wilderness jock John McKinney trekked from Mexico to Oregon along the edge of California. A personal memoir of adventure, discovery, and of the happiness and heartbreak it brought to him—one of California’s native sons.
“John McKinney sprinkles a lot of pepper into the salt air when he describes the state’s far-flung coastline. Passionate, heartfelt prose.” —Santa Barbara News-Press

"California Coastal Trails" by John McKinney
“California Coastal Trails” by John McKinney

California Coastal Trails Volume I, Mexican Border to Big Sur by John McKinney (1983, Capra Press). This pioneering effort described a route for the California Coastal Trail from the Mexican border through San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties. In addition to the CCT itself, the book detailed many day hikes.

"Coast Walks: One Hundred Adventures Along the California Coast" by John McKinney was a regional bestseller.
“Coast Walks: One Hundred Adventures Along the California Coast” by John McKinney was a regional bestseller.

Coast Walks: One Hundred Adventures Along the California Coast by John McKinney (1988, Olympus Press) Describes a hundred adventures along the splendorous California coast. From the back cover copy: The walks include both easy one-mile leg stretchers and more challenging ten-mile explorations. Clear maps and directions, nature and history notes reveal the wonders of Gold Bluffs and Pismo Dunes, Heart’s Desire Beach and Big Sur, and a hundred more beautiful locales.

"Walking the California California Coast" by John McKinney reached a wider audience with a bigger publisher (HarperCollins).
“Walking the California California Coast” by John McKinney reached a wider audience with a bigger publisher (HarperCollins).

Walking the California Coast by John McKinney (1995, HarperCollins) Visit a colony of elephant seals, explore a marine wildlife refuge, tour a historic lighthouse, picnic on a hidden black sand beach, ramble through the massive, ancient redwoods, or hike the rugged country of Big Sur. “More than a compendium of hikers. Packed with intriguing stories about the history of towns, harbors, beaches and parks.”—Sunset Magazine.

Another Trailmaster guide, "Walking the Central California Coast," highlighted hikes from San Luis Obispo to Monterey.
Another Trailmaster guide, “Walking the Central California Coast,” highlighted hikes from San Luis Obispo to Monterey.

Walking the Central California Coast by John McKinney (1996, HarperCollins)
Between the Bay Area and the Southland are four coastal counties—San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo—that offer some of the most inspiring walking in the west. California’s ‘Middle Kingdom” is laced with memorable trails that explore the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay, Ana Nuevo State Reserve, Point Lobos, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, Montana de Oro State Park.

 "Coast Walks: 150 Adventures Along the California Coast" added 50 more hikes to the popular first edition of this guide.

“Coast Walks: 150 Adventures Along the California Coast” added 50 more hikes to the popular first edition of this guide.

Coast Walks: 150 Adventures Along the California Coast by John McKinney (2000, Olympus Press) There were so many great hikes along the California Coastal Trail that I just had to enlarge the book to 150 walking and hiking adventures!

"California's Coastal Parks: A Day Hiker's Guide" by John McKinney details his favorite beach walks and blufftop trails.
“California’s Coastal Parks: A Day Hiker’s Guide” by John McKinney details his favorite beach walks and blufftop trails.

California’s Coastal Parks: A Day Hiker’s Guide by John McKinney (2006, Wilderness Press) Lively descriptions of California’s coastlands take you to the best spots between the Oregon and Mexican borders, including state beaches, national parks, historic sites and wilderness areas.
“An ideal companion for a drive along Highway 1. You’ll find a wealth of information about where to hike and what to see. After reading it, you’ll feel a little closer to the edge of a continent.” —The Sierra Club Southern Sierran.

"COAST WALKS: Santa Barbara; Best Beach Walks and Coastal Hikes"
“COAST WALKS: Santa Barbara; Best Beach Walks and Coastal Hikes”

Coast Walks: Santa Barbara by John McKinney(2014, The Trailmaster Inc.)
Enjoy Santa Barbara’s Best Beach Walks and Coastal Hikes! From Summerland Beach to Stearns Wharf to Campus Point, Coastal Hiking Expert John McKinney shares favorite sojourns to Santa Barbara’s shoreline parks and special places.