At Garrapata State Park, spectacular rocky shorelines play counterpoint with an inland area of steep mountains and deep redwood canyons. The park has two miles of beach front, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a beautiful view of the Pacific. The park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves. The park also features outstanding coastal headlands at Soberanes Point. Sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters frequent the coastal waters and California gray whales pass close by during their yearly migration. The park is located on Highway 1, 6.7 miles south of Rio Road in Carmel (18 miles north of Big Sur). The climate is moderate, with a mean average of 50-65 degrees year-round. Variable weather includes cool, foggy mornings, strong onshore winds, and hot summer days in the backcountry. Layered clothing is advised. Dogs are only allowed on Garrapata Beach and must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. Bicycles are permitted only on Rocky Ridge Trail.
This is my favorite trail in the whole world. It's challenging but well worth it. Make sure you have great shoes with good threads or be prepared to slide down the mountain. It can also get cold and windy any time of the year. Dogs are NOT allowed -- please respect the signs.
The northern side of the trail is very washed out, we went counter clockwise around the trail and came down on that side. It may be easier to go up that direct as it was hard to get a good foothold while coming down. Over half of the trail is in the sun so be prepared. There was also an almost vertical climb down in the redwoods.
Great mix of red wood trees, open barren hills and nice little streams. It can be strenuous hike for a non experienced hiker. The view from the highest point which is close to 1880 feet is amazing. Do carry a lot of water as during summer days you will get dehydrated really fast during the climb. You will also find tons of lizards, cactus and poison ivy, so be careful.