Carmel River Trail is a 28.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Carmel Valley, CA that features a river. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking and trail running.
Did a 20-mile roundtripper from Los Padres dam up the Carmel River trail, to the apparently now-defunct Puerto Suello trail (it's on my Trails Illustrated but not on Alltrails!), then down the Ventana and Big Pines Trails. Really beautiful area. The trails can be tough to follow at time, as they're really overgrown in places, but the views make up for it. From the Ventana Trail you can see the ocean! The Carmel River is really beautiful, also, so lush it reminded me of being home back East!
5/3/15 - My 12 yr old daughter and myself just completed a 3 day/2 night from China Camp at Tassahara Rd through Pine Valley to Los Padres Dam. Great trip but a very tough through the stretch from Pine Valley to Hidding Camp. We made it to Buckskin Flat camp in 7 hours with a couple of long breaks in between. The trail through this section was severely overgrown with probably 15 fallen trees. If I had know it was this bad I would not have tried and instead opted for the Carmel river trail in and out. I would not recommend this stretch until maintenance is done as the growth will only get worse. Ton's of poison oak as well. If you go, don't attempt without good trail pants, long sleeves, gloves and a face net (bugs). Getting to the river trail was a great reward and this trail, while also a bit overgrown in places, was beautiful. I'm in really good shape as is my daughter and the 2nd leg was pretty grueling so I would consider the overall trip moderate.
3/15/14 - From Los Padres Dam to Carmel River Camp - 11 miles r/t. Stayed one night with my 10 yr old daughter. She loved the trail and playing in the river. Great hike with a few Difficult spots but I mostly consider this as a Moderate hike. Reservoir was full as opposed to a few weeks ago when it looked 30' lower than tree line. The river crossings were all rock hoppers and the poison oak is a bit encroaching onto some sections. Overall really nice and the no fire order had been lifted about a week before we went so a nice small evening fire was nice.
Great hike to recon some overnight spots for the near future. Started at 9a with my daughter and headed out to see the Bluff campsite and Carmel River campsite. Easy trail to follow, one creek crossing over a log and one rock-hopping river crossing. Doable now but most rocks we used would be covered with some rain. If so, wading knee deep would be possible. Two trails leave the Bluff area (clean and empty and a total of 4 sites, all empty today) across the river but one ends upstream 100 yds (just a water access trail). The other trail heads up over a small pass and you enter the Ventana Wilderness/Los Padres National Forest (sign post). The Carmel River campsite has 2 large camp areas and was empty today. Will definitely come back for a 2 night trip. Was 11 miles r/t from dam parking area.