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Lace Up your Shoes and Hit the Trail!

Perhaps one of the best ways to explore the scenic beauty that Monterey County has to offer is by hiking some of its back roads, by-ways and trails. Pack a picnic, and point your compass in the direction of one of the many state and regional parks in the area. Plan a day trip to Jacks Peak in Monterey or Garland Park in Carmel Valley, and enjoy walking through dense forests and open meadows, even traversing the Carmel River. Or, head out to Point Lobos State Reserve, and choose a meandering trail along the coast.

If it's an overnight camping trip you're planning, consider the Los Padres National Forest, which is easily reached from Big Sur. During the spring wildflower season, a wonderful world of flora and fauna awaits hikers who venture off the beaten path. Don't forget to bring along your copy of the latest National Audubon Society handbook, so you can identify various birds. You may also meet up with deer, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes; keep your eyes open and you may see signs that wild pigs and even mountain lions have been in the area recently. Whether you're a seasoned hiker, or are simply interested in taking a leisurely walk along the coastal Recreation Trail, there are plenty of trails. Remember to bring your camera, and don't forget to carry plenty of water. Happy trails!

See more about hiking areas in our Outdoor Life section.

     Local Parks

     Garland Regional Park
     700 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley

     Jacks Peak Park
     25020 Jacks Peak Park Rd, Monterey

     Toro Regional Park
     501 Monterey-Salinas Hwy, Salinas

     Garrapata State Park
     Highway One, Carmel

Hiking with a View

Three miles south of Carmel, the Point Lobos State Reserve has been called "the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world." The crown jewel of California's state parks system, Point Lobos offers scenic trails spread throughout 500-plus acres, and a protected underwater park popular with scuba divers. Visitors from all over the world stop to enjoy this spectacular park each year, hiking along its easy to moderate coastal loops. This is a great picnic area, boasting views of Carmel Bay, Pebble Beach, and south to Big Sur. Artists should surely bring a portable easel and watercolors. Admission is $7/car including a trail map. Or, park on Highway One and walk in for free. Call 831-624-4909 for hours of operation.

Health & Safety Tips
Be sure to carry adequate bottled water when hiking: dehydration can lead to fatigue and even disorientation. Bring a light jacket or sweatshirt: temperatures drop when our coastal fog rolls in.
Puppy Power
Dogs are welcome at many state parks and beaches, but must be on leashes at all times. Please call ahead to see if your pooch can join you on the trail—and don't forget to pack a plastic bag to pick up after your canine friend.

Climbing the Walls
As rock-climbing gains in popularity, more and more people are discovering some of Monterey County's best-kept climbing secrets. Garrapata State Park, seven miles south of Carmel. offers nearly 3000 acres of hiking trails, and a special place to rock-climb on the southern part of the beach. The Pinnacles National Monument on Monterey County's eastern border also offers challenging rock climbing formations, although they are off-limits from January 15 to July 1 as they provide nesting habitat for several hawk and falcon species. For those who want to hone their rock climbing skills, visit www.rockgym.com Sanctuary Rock Gym, an indoor climbing venue. Call 831-899-2595 for hours and more information.