Soberanes Canyon Trail

HARD 282 reviews
#1 of 4 trails in

Soberanes Canyon Trail is a 5.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Carmel-by-the-Sea, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
5.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,788 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

beach

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

no dogs

As of February 2019, the Rocky Ridge portion of this trail is closed. Visitors can still hike 1.5 miles into the canyon on the Soberanes Canyon Trail. Updated information can be found here: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=579 The most spectacular part of the hike is through the Soberanes Canyon where the trail is flanked on both sides by impressive redwoods. Once you leave the redwoods and get above treeline, it isn't the immediate scenery that captivates, but rather the panoramic views. These views are typically obscured facing west due to the blanket of fog and mist that unfolds over the coast. Turn your back 180 degrees and you are likely greeted by sunlit views of Carmel valley.

5 hours ago

Great hike, we started on the ridge side and finished along the stream.

2 days ago

love to trail run, counter clockwise works best. A few sections going up to the peak are quite steep...no running there
creek is running high at the crossings due to the rain. views are fantastic on a clear day.
if you run its a little over 1 hour, regular hiking time i would plan a little over 1.5 hours with no breaks, but you will want to hang out on the top for sure

hiking
15 days ago

The most beautiful scenic hike that I’ve ever been on. I think it’s moderate/hard. We did it in tennis shoes and did just fine. We would’ve liked having our hiking boots just because it was rocky and there were a lot of wet spots and creeks to cross. We did hike in the rainy season! The whole hike has beautiful scenes. We went through the woods first and then on the way down you have beautiful views of the ocean. Will do this one again!

15 days ago

This is definitely a challenging hike but the view from the peak is worth every step. As plenty of hikers have said, come prepared with good footwear and clothing as the weather can change pretty quickly.
This is a great hike in such a beautiful place! I can't wait to do it agian.

hiking
no shade
21 days ago

This was a brutal hike. I did the loop counter-clockwise. The first part of the hike through the forest was beautiful and relatively flat. There’s a sign saying the rest of the trail is closed about 1.5 miles in but the trail conditions were fine. After emerging from the forested valley you hike straight up the mountain. It was quite strenuous and the scenery didn’t change much the entire way up. The view from the top was amazing, and the entire hike down had phenomenal views of the ocean. The hike down is STEEP and there aren’t a ton of rocks for footing. I was up and back to my car in about 2 hours. All in all, it was a difficult and strenuous hike but the view made it worth it. I preferred Mount Manuel over this hike but you can’t really go wrong hiking in Big Sur.

hiking
21 days ago

Great views! I would say this is a moderate hike. Real hiking shoes would definitely help. There are few waters to pass.

hiking
scramble
23 days ago

This hike was challenging, yet 100% worth it! Absolutely breathtaking.

27 days ago

Definitely a challenging trail, especially the climb towards the peak. We went counterclockwise and had a cross a couple streams, we grabbed some sticks which helped. There was a sign saying the trail was closed 1.2 miles in, but the weather was good and there were plenty of people ignoring it. The trail conditions were fine. There was no sign going the other way.

hiking
rocky
washed out
27 days ago

Awesome trail AMAZING VIEWS and a great workout! We went counterclockwise through the whole 5.5 mile loop. Because of the heavy rains lately, we had to scramble a bit over some water crossings (there were 4? 5?) in the canyon part of the trail in the first mile or so, but they weren’t too dicey and people laid logs as walkways across. But totally worth it if you’re prepared (snacks, water, shoes, poles for the descent for your knees).

hiking
28 days ago

Started hike about 8am with nobody else in sight. There had been a lot of rain the days leading up to the hike so the river crossings were apparently pretty bad going up the counterclockwise direction. made it an out and back using the other side of the trail. the views were amazing, the weather was perfect, and it was a super healthy challenge. Definitely recommending it to anyone in the Big Sur area

hiking
muddy
over grown
rocky
washed out
1 month ago

Had a great time
Got the loop done in 3.5 hours with my girlfriend

hiking
1 month ago

Definitely challenging but worth it for the workout. Bad knees not a good idea as pretty much of trail is a significant incline with no shade. Totally ignore closure signs for rocky ridge if you hike trails were fine, I’ve hiked worse. About 2 hours up with snack breaks and pics at 2 miles and 50 min down at 1.92 miles.

2 months ago

Absolutely love this hike! One of my favorites.

hiking
2 months ago

I love this hike. I’ve probably done it 100 times over the years. I noticed a couple of the reviews mentioned shoes, specifically wearing hiking shoes, which I wholeheartedly agree with for both safety and comfort. Also, the weather can vary greatly from the back side to the front rocky ridge.

hiking
2 months ago

alas... every good trail has a proposal point... this one trumps all else on coastal views... just like in marriage things start kinda..well..peaceful & easy.. then begins the climb... sometimes you pass where you one should not go (I'm talking about heading past the trail closed sign)... but..let's all agree the effort is worth the climb... summiting affords a reward of panoramic views of the world class rocky cliffs... God himself carved out this trail in all its glory... dream of the perfect love...the kind that bows its knee and offers eternal-like love at a perfectly placed bench on the edge of the world..should this world be flat I would certainly fall off... please some share your proposal moment... and after the mountain high life will no doubt circle you back on the challenging path... you will follow a trail that was crafted by the harshness of wind and water.. (quite literally you will follow a wash) cared for by only mother nature herself... but worth the challenge in every way...ending where the beginning began... peaceful & easy...

hiking
2 months ago

Great loop. It is a good climb, but anyone that actually looks at the map before they go can figure that out. Part of the loop is ‘closed’ because it simply hasn’t been maintained for a while, unfortunately. The trailhead is usually a little crowded, but very few of those cars are actually on the trail, most are on the west side of the highway looking at the water. As far as the trail being dangerous, the most dangerous part of the hike is parking and crossing Highway 1!!

2 months ago

Enjoyed this hiked. Started on the canyon side and enjoyed the ocean view on the way down. I recommend walking sticks on the way down because the incline is hard on your knees. This trail is beautiful!

hiking
3 months ago

Parking: Easy parking on both sides of hwy 1. We started early but I imagine it gets quite busy during the spring and summer.

Bathrooms: 2 porta pottys near the trailhead. Both were very clean.

Hike: Great hike. Headed counterclockwise through a pretty diverse landscape including cacti and then redwoods and a nicely flowing creek. Ignored the closed sign as many people were.. a bit of an uphill right after the closure sign but smooth sailing after that. Uphill and pretty tough but great views of the surrounding mountains and ocean await you at the top. Descending down rocky ridge wasn't too bad with poles but might be a little tough for some. Watch your footing and be careful of ticks, found one crawling up my shirt!

3 months ago

Love this trail and my kids have grown up hiking this trail.

3 months ago

Stunning views from the peak. Not sure why the trail is marked as closed, I would encourage you to continue onwards as long as you are in shape and stable on your feet, you will be just fine!

4 months ago

Hard work up and down but the views from the top totally worth it. Stunning views up and down the coast.

4 months ago

This hike is NOT dangerous unless your wearing sandals like some people do. If you start into the canyon and hike to the posted sign at 1.25 m. that says to not continue, you will have a immediate -.1 incline, and it’s very doable. After that it’s smooth sailing.

4 months ago

Beautiful hike, a great workout with awesome views. We hiked it backwards and it was nice to get the sea breeze on the way down. Hiking it never felt dangerous.

walking
4 months ago

After doing the entire loop today I find some of these reviews to be pretty funny. Yes there are dangerous parts to this hike as one would expect hiking through a canyon and then up to the top of a mountain. We honestly don’t know why the trail is closed though. This is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done especially once you reach the summit and over look the beautiful coastline.

4 months ago

Great hike and amazing view, next time I'm thinking about trying it counterclockwise so the last part of the hike wouldn't be in direct sun!

4 months ago

My favorite Big Sur hike.

hiking
5 months ago

Hiked October 4th. Crossed paths with other Day hikers doing the entire 5.4 mi loop. Trail conditions were as described, similar to my hike in spring 2015.

hiking
5 months ago

Scenery: 4
Views: 4
Difficulty: 4
Crowds: 2
Shade: 2

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

hiking
5 months ago

Soberanes is a gorgeous hike and an easy trail through the canyon, however... Do not attempt to do the entire “loop” to Rocky Ridge from the end of Soberanes Canyon Trail unless you’re used to climbing - extreme - terrain and vertical inclines. Once you start up, it’s too dangerous to go back down and it’s not a switchback trail, but a straight shot vertical incline on sandy, rocky ground (easy to slip) that’s the equivalent of 158 “floors” on the iPhone app. Not for the faint of heart, or people looking to go for an easy scenic hike on their vacation. Hiking boots with tread are required and walking sticks also help. There is a reason the trail is closed and that’s because it’s dangerous. That said, the “safest” option for those who want to see the view from the top is to take the Rocky Ridge trail (instead of the Canyon trail) to the top, enjoy the view, then turn around and descend the same way. Do NOT attempt to continue on and descent into the Canyon via Rocky Ridge trail - the ground is not suitable for descending and there’s no cell reception back there (and no patrol), so if anything happens to you, you’re in the wind. Nonetheless, if you are an extreme climber and want to do the entire loop, start with Soberanes Canyon Trail and when you see the “end/closure” sign, the trail is to the left (yes, it’s unmarked, you have to scale the side of the hill and climb up rocks a bit - again, I don’t recommend that route unless you’re an extreme climber/hiker).

hiking
5 months ago

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