Carmel, CA, United States
NileGuide Expert tip:
If you're keen to avoid walking up the steepest section of trail, connecting the redwood forest with the ridgetop, consider hiking the trail in the opposite direction. To do this, head up the Rocky Ridge Trail near the start. Once you reach the saddle on the ridgetop, hike down the spur trail to your right until you get down to Soberanes Canyon, and then make another right to return toward the coastline.
This 5 mile loop exposes the fit hiker to the best elements of the Big Sur region. Starting in dry, cactus-lined scrub along the coast by Highway 1, the Soberanes Canyon trail winds into a valley increasingly far removed from the activity along the coast, and soon you'll be treated to unexpected greenery in the form of redwoods that grow taller and taller as you hike inland. The canyon is a quiet refuge in a harsh landscape. After a mile or so of walking, take a spur trail that heads uphill away from the forest. You'll hike up steeply through rolling hills as the views of the surrounding area and the Pacific become bigger and bigger. Eventually, after much huffing and puffing, you'll reach the top of the ridge and be treated to incredible views north toward Monterey Bay, east toward the Salinas Valley, and west over the Pacific Coast. Follow the Rocky Ridge trail west back down to the coast, with drop dead views all along the route back to your car.