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Garrapata State Park Hiking the trails near the Pacific Ocean coastline
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209 staff reporter

Looking for that spectacular coastal hike?

Try Garrapata State Park nestled between Carmel and Big Sur.

From high atop Doud Peak, I can recall seeing the Pacific Ocean like never before on this side of the coast – a turquoise hue reminiscent of a recent visit to Maui.

At 1,912 feet of elevation, this area also gets plenty of the marine layers especially during the summer months. The result of that are vibrant colors, from rich orange poppies to deep violets among the wildflowers.

Getting there was still half the fun.

The climate at Garrapata is usually moderate, meaning consistent cool temperatures and foggy mornings.  It’s best to dress in layers.

This hike along Rocky Ridge and Soberanes Canyon is a looping 4.5 miles. While it doesn’t sound like much, this stretch is steep enough to merit a series of 2-by-4s anchored to the ground to help secure your footing.

We’ve jokingly said that it takes about three hours to climb to the top (of Doud Peak) and about a half hour to come down from there.

Actually, it’s more like a traversing downhill jog along the 2.2-mile span from the peak to Highway 1. But take your time and enjoy the view of two miles of beach front (there’s a bench at the lookout point).

Garrapata offers a rich geography consisting of vertical headlands with offshore sea stacks made up of granite, sandstone and volcanic rocks.

For me, this was yet another group hike from a few years ago. We started from the Soberanes Canyon Trail – a forested area dominated by coast redwoods, tanoaks, madrone and buckeye mix along the Soberanes Creek – while climbing out on to Rocky Ridge Trail.

From there, it’s a straight up ascent to the rugged Peak Trail leading to Doud Peak, where the view here is spectacular.

This is one of the few hikes that begins and ends along the beaches of the Pacific Ocean.

Directions:  Garrapata is located on Highway 1, 6.7 miles south of Rio Road in Carmel or 18 miles north of Big Sur.