Soberanes Canyon Trail, 1.5 miles one-way (3 miles total). You can keep going and hook up with the Rocky Ridge Trail if you’d like to add a few more miles and a lot more elevation to your trip. We opted to only do Soberanes Canyon Trail on our first trip out.
Here’s what the parks service says about the trails:
Rocky Ridge Trail will be more enjoyable for the gung-ho hiker than the novice. The trail ascends very steeply as it climbs Rocky Ridge. Then, after gaining the ridge, hikers must descend an extremely steep mile (we’re talking about a 20 to 30 percent grade here) to connect to Soberanes Canyon Trail.
Located on Highway 1 about 7 miles south of Carmel Valley Road. Look for mile marker 65.8 for the highway turnout – there are almost always cars there, so it’s pretty easy to spot.
We couldn’t get a parking spot on the first pass, so we continued down Highway 1 to turn around. We pulled into the next big turnout on the west side of the road, and decided to check out the trail there before heading back. (on a subsequent trip to Big Sur, I made note of the turnout – after passing the Soberanes parking lot on the left, go around a big curve in the road – on the way you’ll pass two small spots that can’t really be called turnouts before coming to a sign on the west side of the road that says Soberanes Point coastal access – that’s the turnout)
A very short walk leads to a bench with an amazing view. There’s a steep rut (wouldn’t call it a trail) covered with roots that descends toward the water.
We headed to Soberanes and had to pull into the grass on the side of the highway to park because the lot was full. Even though there were plenty of cars, we only passed other hikers on the trail every once in a while. It didn’t feel crowded.
Soberanes used to be a ranch. Only the barn remains.
The weather in Pacific Grove was gray and lightly misting, and it wasn’t much different once we got to Soberanes.
There are a lot of side trails that take you deeper into the woods and further away from people. We found a large fallen tree that served as a great place to eat lunch–and noticed that we had ticks on our pants. I felt sorry for the people who were hiking in shorts, not only for the ticks but also the copious poison oak that’s all over Big Sur and often brushes your legs in the more narrow sections of the trail.
This tree looked like it might come alive and throw apples at us.