We spent a couple days enjoying the gorgeous mid-winter weather on the Big Sur coast. The following few posts will detail the parks we visited. The first stop on Saturday afternoon was a hike up Rocky Ridge and Soberanes Canyon in Garrapata State Park. Due to last summer’s massive fires, this is one of the few hikes on the east side of Highway 1 that is open so it was quite popular. This is a classic Big Sur hike featuring a brutally steep ascent up an exposed slope, magnificent ocean views, and a descent into a surprisingly lush redwood-filled canyon. Total mileage for the loop is around 5 miles with the high point atop Rocky Ridge at 1,840+ feet.
We started the hiked at 2:30 pm while it was still quite warm (record-breaking warmth for January) so the hike up the ridge was sweaty. The trail is all business heading essentially straight up the ridge. Fortunately, the coastal views improved with each step. At the top, we were greeted with 360 degree views and a cool afternoon breeze.
From the saddle, we began an even steeper descent into Soberanes Canyon. The path here is heavily eroded with useless steps and difficult traction. We finally reached the bottom of the canyon and enjoyed the striking contrast going from a dry chapparal slope to a lush redwood forest. Soberanes creek babbles amongst the old growth woods and plush carpet of redwood sorrel. We took a side trip to visit the most scenic part of the grove. After a rough section of trail at the top of the canyon, the tread becomes progressively better as you descend towards the ocean.
- State Parks Brochure (PDF)