The Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail is one of the most popular places in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. It’s a roughly 3-mile drive from the famous downtown area. The trail is located next to the bluffs of the Garrapata State Park and is completely paved. On the bluffs, you can see the ocean very well and this makes it one of the most beautiful places to hike.
In Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, the trails at Garrapata State Park give you a breathtaking view over the ocean to the Farallon Islands and back. Despite being a state park, the trails are free and open to the public.
The Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail is a great place to go if you are looking for a beach escape with lots of views. The trail leads you first up to a lookout for some of the more spectacular views and then down to the beach, which is lined with rocks and driftwood. Along the way, you can stop at the Garrapata Beach Viewpoint for more great views.
The short but scenic Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail is a must-do hike in Big Sur, near Carmel-by-the-Sea. The coastline here is one of the most picturesque on the Big Sur Coast. Garrapata State Park used to be a hidden gem, but that’s no longer the case. The hiking trails in the area are very popular, and in good weather, hikers of all ages can be found on the Garrapata Bluff Trail. This route can even be done on a day trip to Big Sur in general, as it is easy and quick. Planning a hike on the Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail? Read on to find out what to expect and what you need to know before you go!
CONTENTS What to expect on the Garrapata Trail in Bluff State Park Important facts about the Bluff Trail at Garrapata State Park How do I get to the Bluff Trail at Garrapata State Park How long does it take to hike the Bluff Trail at Garrapata State Park? What to bring for the Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail Tips for the Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail
What can you expect from the Garrapata Bluff Trail in the state park?
Soberanes Point is known to be ridiculously photogenic, and the Bluff Trail offers stunning views at every turn. The cliffs here are some of the most colourful and rugged on the coast. Here we have described an option that includes the portion of the trail between Gates 7 and 8 in Garrapata State Park, beginning at Gate 8. You can also start the route at gate 7.
Bays and cliffs
If you start at Gate 8, turn right onto the trail that heads north. As the path meanders along the water, you can enjoy the beautiful ocean views and watch the surf pounding against the rocks on the shore. In many places, the cliffs are covered with ice plants, and when their foliage turns red, the cliffs glow with color. The purple and yellow flowers of the ice plant also provide bright touches of color. At the foot of the cliffs, the rocks and pebbly bays give way to small strips of immaculate sand. There are small branches off the main trail that lead closer to the edge, but we recommend always staying on the main trail as the Big Sur landscape is prone to erosion. On the south side, Whale Peak emerges from the water at Soberanes Point. On the landward side, across California Highway 1, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise majestically.
Flora and Fauna
You can watch seabirds fly overhead, birds of prey make graceful dives and take off again, and in season you can see migrating gray whales that migrate south to Baja California in the winter and return to the Arctic seas in the spring. Ancient cypress trees rise here and there above the coastal vegetation, and in spring you will find an abundance of wild flowers and flowering lupines. Sparrows fly through the vegetation and you may see squirrels or rabbits.
Although the trail is a long series of beautiful views, there are several fenced-in lookouts along the way where you can stop to take pictures of the water and rocks. The first lookout point you approach from Gate 8 is directly above some of the most stunning rock formations on the trail and is a great place to admire the subtle textures, colors and stripes of the rocks. When we came here in May, we saw wildflowers clinging to the rocks.
Soberanes Creek Falls
Take another turn on the trail and you’ll see Soberanes Creek forming a series of waterfalls that cascade down the cliffs to the Pacific Ocean. The bridge over the stream bed is a good place to photograph the main waterfall next to the bridge and the small waterfalls in the rocks behind it. There was a lot of water when we came here in the spring, but even when it was dry, the creek that flows into the ocean is beautiful. Above the bridge, there is another path that leads to another viewpoint that is not so close to the water. This section of trail also offers great views of the mountains east of the highway. When you’re done with your research, go back to the beginning.
Facts about Garrapata Bluff Trail State Park
As described, the Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail is approximately 0.8 miles (round trip). This is an easy, fairly wide, well-maintained, unpaved path with a height difference of less than 15 metres. The path is suitable for most park visitors. There are steps, so the path is not accessible to those with walking difficulties, but it is short and easy enough to carry small children if necessary. Bicycles and pets are not allowed on the trail. The Bluff Trail at Garrapata State Park can be hiked year-round, and the area is open from sunrise to sunset. A sign at the beginning of the trail warns against climbing the rocks near the shore. Surfing here is extremely dangerous, and stormy waves can occur at any time. Please respect the rules and safety signs in the park.
How to get to the Bluff Trailhead in Garrapata State Park
The Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail can be reached from 7th or 8th. The landmark (gate) of Garrapata State Park can be reached. There are no clear access signs here and no cell phone reception, so download directions to Soberanes Point before driving into Big Sur. There is no parking at Garrapata State Park and admission is free. There are gravel parking lots on both sides of California Highway 1. See the map showing the entrance to Gate 7. Gate 8 is a few feet to the south. The parking lot at gates 7 and 8 fills up quickly, especially on weekends when the weather is nice, so come early in the day or in the afternoon to get a spot. If you park on the west side of the highway, you won’t have to cross Highway 1 to get to the trailhead. Make sure your car is parked completely on the sidewalk, as Route 1 is very narrow. Watch for incoming and outgoing traffic as you walk from your car to the beginning of the trail.
How long does it take to hike the Bluff Trail in Garrapata State Park?
If you don’t have much time, you can walk the trail in 20-30 minutes, but we recommend stopping for about an hour to enjoy the views, take photos, and watch the marine life and birds. For a shorter option, start and end at Gate 7 and follow the trail north and south of the creek bridge. But if you get the chance, we recommend going all the way, because you can’t miss the view at Gate 8. On a recent visit, we started the walk at Gate 8 and ended at Gate 7, climbing the steps to the road. Then we walked along the road to our car, which was parked at Gate 8. This is a bad idea. The road is narrow and the traffic is fast. We recommend that you take enough time to return to the gate where you started your walk.
What to take on a hike to the rock face of Garrapata State Park
There are no services available at Garrapata State Park. Bring enough drinking water to stay warm during the walk.
Food and refreshments
The Bluff Trail at Garrapata State Park is very short, so you won’t need food. However, if you plan to spend the entire day in the park (there are many hikes to be had!), bring a picnic lunch and snacks.
Digital camera with zoom lens
If you hike the trail in good weather, you can take good photos of the landscape with your smartphone. However, if you like to photograph birds and wildlife, you will need a camera with a zoom lens. We always take our Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 camera with us when we go camping. It’s a tiny camera that fits in your pocket, but it has a Leica lens and a powerful 30x zoom, and we get great shots of birds and wildlife with it.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
The entire trail is walkable, so don’t forget sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. Also, use a bug spray if you are sensitive to bites and to ward off ticks.
Tips for hiking the Bluff Trail in Garrapata State Park
You can hike the Bluff Trail in Garrapatta at any time of year, but in the spring you’ll see green hills and beautiful wildflowers along the way. We have hiked this trail in all seasons, but spring is by far the best time of year for this hike. In the spring, there are also many clear days with beautiful views of the water, and you may see migrating whales in the water.
Avoid marine layer in summer
If you’re hiking in the summer, keep in mind that the Big Sur coast, like all of Northern and Central California, is prone to morning fog. The marine layer stretches thickly over the land, obscuring visibility. Usually (but not always) the marine layer disappears by noon. So if you walk the trail in the afternoon in summer, you are more likely to get clear views than if you walk in the morning.
Arriving too early or too late to find a parking space
Parking at Gates 7 and 8 of Garrapata State Park is limited and the parking lots are separated by several trails. To have the best chance of getting a parking spot, arrive early in the morning or late in the evening. At the beginning or end of the day, you can enjoy a little solitude on the trails. On a recent visit, we arrived at 8am and this road was empty, although there were cars in the parking lot.
It’s always cool and breezy on the Big Sur coast, no matter the season. On particularly windy mornings, it can be cold even in the middle of summer. Bring a light, warm jacket or hooded windbreaker to keep you warm on the walk, especially if you follow our advice and arrive early or late in the day.
Wear long pants and long-sleeved clothing to protect your skin from the poison ivy found on all trails in the park. The trail is groomed, so stay in the middle of the trail to avoid walking in the vegetation, which can also contain ticks. Also, wear running or walking shoes or boots with closed toes. Although the trail is not slippery and you do not have to climb it, good shoes and thick socks help protect your feet and ankles from insects and poison ivy while hiking.
Give more time than you think you need
The Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail is beautiful, and if the weather is nice, you’ll definitely want to take the time. So set aside more time than you think, not only for this route, but also to visit Garrapata State Park and Big Sur in general. ***** Do you like walking on scenic trails? Check out our other articles on hiking trails in California! Did you find this article informative? Save it for later! Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail near Carmel-by-the-Sea, California is a 2.7 mile loop trail and feature stunning cliffs and ocean views, an overlook and boardwalk, and a bridge over a small ravine. The trail is relatively flat and easy to hike. The trail also passes an old oyster ranch and is a good choice for bird watchers. The trail is open year-round. Dogs and bicycles are permitted.. Read more about garrapata beach and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the Garrapata hike?
The trip down to Carmel-by-the-Sea was one of the most challenging hikes I have ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. The hike goes from the ocean to the mountains and it is hard, and only about half of it is paved. The last 4 miles are on rock and dirt and it is intense. The Garrapata hike is a fairly easy hike in the upper Carmel Valley, located in San Luis Obispo County, California. The hike starts from Garrapata Beach at the end of Garrapata Road. The trail starts out fairly flat, but after just a few hundred yards, the Garrapata Trail begins to climb. At first, the climb is gradual, but then the trail switches to switchbacks and climbs steeply for the next 500 yards.
Is Garrapata Beach Open?
Summer is in full swing in California. The beach weather is great, the weather is perfect, and the California coastline is stunning. But when you’re vacationing somewhere like Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail near Carmel-by-the-Sea, there’s one thing you can’t help but wonder: Is Garrapata Beach Open? Garrapata Beach is a public beach on the Monterey Bay coast, located just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s a great surfing spot with a wide sandy beach and a small winding path that leads to a tidepool. It’s a popular place with locals and tourists alike. In fact, the place is usually deserted. Then, a few weeks ago, a woman was spotted walking out to the beach at sunrise. She was dressed in all black, was walking quickly, and had a large black bag. She was later seen going back and forth between the beach and the parking lot, and was quickly approached by two men who grabbed her bag and started to run away. The witnesses were shocked and called the police.
How do I get to Garrapata Beach?
Garrapata State Park is in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, near Monterey Bay. The park is located at the end of a 2.3 mile long trail that winds through coastal prairie and oak woodland. At the end of the trail is a great view of the Pacific Ocean. If you’re not from California, then you may not know what the C-B-S means. It’s a special acronym for Carmel-by-the-Sea, the coastal community that offers some of the best beaches in California. It has a popular public beach (Garrapata Beach) and an equally popular public park with a trail system that you can use for hiking or biking.
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