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The Best Carmel-By-The-Sea Hikes to Go On Now

The Best Carmel-By-The-Sea Hikes to Go On Now

Carmel-By-The-Sea contains a variety of trails suited for all ages and skill levels.

Natasha Kouyoumjian


4 min read

February 23, 2023

Magic awaits you in Carmel-by-the-Sea and a way to fully experience the joys of the city is by hiking. With the full breadth of nature at your fingertips, Carmel hikes are breathtaking. If you’re a traveler by nature and ready for an adventure into gorgeous seascapes and mountain backdrops, it’s time to grab your backpack and make it out to one of these beautiful hiking trails in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Ranging from easy to hard, the difficulty range for Carmel hikes is suitable for all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re up for a short family hike with the pup or a serious workout, hiking around Big Sur is a must. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a pedestrian city, so the best discoveries are on foot. Make the most of the magnetic weather with many great trails available year-round. Slip on your running shoes and hit the trails.

1. Cypress Grove Trail

The scenic coastal view from the Cypress Grove Trail is a sight to behold.

Location: Cypress Grove Trail, CA 93923.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 17 minutes

Distance: 0.8 miles

Elevation: 18m

Route type: Loop

Pets: Not allowed

Take a 12-minute drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea and you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Point Lobos Natural Reserve. Though one of the easier Carmel hikes, you’ll encounter fellow hikers exploring every inch of this reserve. If you’re up for a family outing, this hike will feel like a leisurely stroll along the stretch of cypress trees. Want to spend more time in Carmel by-the-Sea? No need to wrap the day after the hike. On Moss Cove, you'll make it to Monastery Beach in a five-minute drive or 30-minute walk.

2. Point Lobos Loop Trail

If you’re searching for the best Carmel hikes, this one comes out on top.

Location: 62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 2 hours, 41 minutes

Distance: 6.71 miles

Elevation: 226m

Route type: loop

Pets: Not allowed

Ranking among California’s must-visit state parks, Point Lobos Loop Trail stands out among other hikes in Monterey. The Point Lobos Loop Trail contains some of the best hiking near Carmel. There’s plenty to do, such as bird watching to running with a beautiful palette of wildflowers and a kid-friendly atmosphere. It’s a moderately lengthy hike that will present a challenge without alienating less experienced hikers.

3. South Plateau Trail to Bird Island

Look out for the signs pointing at the seabirds on the South Plateau Trail.

Location: 62 CA-1, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 44 minutes

Distance: 1.6 miles

Elevation: 79m

Route type: Out & Back

Pets: Not allowed

Living in Carmel, you have surely heard of Scenic-1. Yes, the highway. Located in the Point Lobos State Reserve, this route is one of the most promising Carmel-by-the-Sea hikes. With its name implying nothing less, it’s home to hundreds of seabirds. If you’re traveling during hatching season, get ready to witness loads of western gulls and Brandt's cormorants.

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4. Carmel Beach

Beach hikes offer a different environment than the standard trails located in more woodland areas.

Location: Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 29 minutes

Distance: 1.3 miles

Elevation: 33m

Route type: Out & back

Pets: Allowed

Beach hikes are a wonderful way to mix up your hiking experience. With the green grass spreading on one side with white sands opposite, the Carmel Beach hike will let you unwind and de-stress. For the best outcome, start the hike prior to sunset so you can enjoy the milky skies on the way back. It’s a romantic destination so this California beach town makes for a great outdoor date destination.

5. Soberanes Point Whale Peak

This year-round trail is an ideal spot for a quick weekend getaway.

Location: Whale Peak Trail, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 51 minutes

Distance: 1.8 miles

Elevation: 95m

Route type: Loop

Pets: Not allowed

Soberanes Point Whale Peak guarantees a pleasurable Carmel escapade. Its year-round accessibility offers hikers velvety beaches, stunning rock formations, and curious flora and fauna. For all beach lovers, this hike will be the start of a generously lovely day. You’ll get an earful of the ocean calling you out, so have your beach towels ready to take a dip. If you’re looking to make the most of Carmel hikes, this will be a guaranteed fun day.

6. Pico Blanco 

Los Padres National Forest delivers stunning views and a range of exciting hikes.

Location: Los Padres National Forest

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 10 hours, 54 minutes 

Distance: 22.7 miles

Elevation: 1, 658m

Route type: Out & back

Pets: Allowed on leash

The hardest of the Carmel hike trails, this one gives you a proper glimpse into the wildlife and forests. If you're looking for a proper workout, this trail will be extra satisfying to hike with your buddies. A combination of pine and cypress trees tower the woods of this route. Be sure to have your lens ready to take those decent shots of nature. A few miles down the trail make sure you stop by the river for a nice relaxing picnic before you continue the route. After a long day, it's time to unwind in one of Carmel city’s sweetest cottages. 

7. Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is cloud nine for all animal lovers.

Location: Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, Monterey, CA.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

Distance: 13.2 miles

Elevation: 116 m

Route: Out & back

Pets: Dogs on leash

Just an eight-minute drive from Carmel-By-The-Sea, you end up on the prettiest coast of Monterey, named Monterey Bay. Besides being exceedingly beautiful, this coastal trail is easy to traverse and full of visual splendor. The trail is a partially-paved route that welcomes everyone. Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is stroller-friendly, wheelchair friendly, and even your furry friends are welcome on this trail. Perfect for family outings, social hangouts, or even for impressive dates. The bay is popularly known for its wildlife habitat, the magnetic beach view, and the rails trails. Be prepared to watch mountain bikers pass you by while on your hike.  After a pleasant hike, head to Monterey Bay, to end the day with whale watching. 

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