Hiking Places near Carmel, CA for All Skill Levels
The natural beauty of Monterey County is best experienced on a hike. Monterey, Big Sur, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Carmel Valley, or just about anywhere in the region offers hikes suitable for every skill level from novice to expert and every activity level, from a leisurely stroll to a strenuous mountain climb.
Point Lobos State Reserve
Called “the crown jewel of the State Park System,” Point Lobos State reserve has much to offer the millions of visitors who’ve come to admire “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world.”
Among the reserve’s offerings are beaches, coves, walking paths, and rolling meadows. Hiking trails wander along the coastline and lead to stunning views from sunny beaches and hidden coves. Wildlife viewing along the trails includes seals, seagulls, sea otters, sea lions, and migrating gray whales (December through May).
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve also offers exceptional opportunities for sightseeing, painting, photography, nature study, picnicking, and jogging. Moreover, the reserve is quite popular with SCUBA divers and offers one of the richest underwater habitats in the world.
This splendid site for hiking and diving is easily accessible by car. To make the ten-minute drive from our location, travel three miles to the south on Highway 1.
Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail
The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is one of the most distinctive features of Monterey County. The most scenic portion of the trail follows the coastline, extending about one mile from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. Following this stretch of the trail affords views of the picturesque Monterey coastline and wildlife viewing that includes birds, sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, and sometimes even whales.
The charming, paved waterfront trail is popular with locals and tourists who come to enjoy famous Monterey attractions including Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and downtowns Monterey & Pacific Grove, as well as beaches, parks, and historic sites.
This easily accessible trail is located just 5 miles from Carmel and is a 12-minute drive from the Carmel Green Lantern Inn.
Garland Ranch Regional Park
Breathtaking views await around every bend of 4,462-acre Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley. This dog-friendly spot is popular with locals and visitors alike for leisure hiking, and offers trails for hikers at every skill level, from nearly level trails for novices to steep inclines for devoted hikers.
Garland Ranch Regional Park includes notable features like the Garzas Creek, Carmel River, a redwood canyon, and a charming waterfall. Visitors can also experience the Carmel Valley of the past in the historic buildings peppering the park.
Drive east on Carmel Valley Road from Highway 1 for 8.6 miles to find Garland Ranch Regional Park’s main entrance on your right. From the Carmel Green Lantern Inn, the park is a 20-minute drive.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Named for renowned Big Sur pioneer Julia Pfeiffer Burns, this state park is beloved by hikers. Stretching from the Big Sur coastline to nearby 3,000-foot ridges, the park features redwoods, madrone, tan oak, and chaparral.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is also home to one of the most unique and picturesque sights of California’s coastline, McWay Falls. A rare fresh waterfall, McWay plummets 80 feet down a granite cliff into a majestic cove and then to the Pacific Ocean. The scenic fall can be viewed from a 0.5-mile walk on Overlook Trail, easily accessible from the park’s entrance gate off Highway 1.
From higher elevations, visitors can take in panoramic views of the rugged coastline and Pacific Ocean. It’s no wonder visitors rave about Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Located 37 miles south of Carmel and 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur, the park can be reached by driving for one hour from Carmel Green Lantern Inn, heading south on Highway 1.