Sobranes Canyon Hike

A quick drive down the coast from Monterey, Sobranes Canyon is the perfect backdrop for an active afternoon.  A 4.7 mile trail loops through Sobranes Canyon and up over Rocky Ridge for epic views of the Big Sur coastline.  The hike took us around three hours but felt a lot longer due to the tough incline.  The reward at the top is well worth it though.

Sobranes Canyon is in Garrapata State Park, about a ten to fifteen minute drive south of Carmel.  There are no signs from the road for Sobranes Canyon, but a large rusting barn on the hillside marks where you’ll find the trailhead under a row of trees that line the highway.

Sobranes Canyon barn

An old barn marks the the trailhead from Highway 1.


Old washtub outside of the barn at Sobranes Canyon.

Old washtub outside of the barn at Sobranes Canyon.



Beginning of Sobranes Canyon trail.


Walking with wildflowers

A sign warns that the trail from Sobranes Canyon to Rocky Ridge is not open, however we confirmed that the trail was indeed passable.  The trail winds up the canyon along a stream through coastal brush, wildflowers and a grove of redwoods.  Poison oak and tall brush hug the path.  We passed three snakes and stepped over countless lizards.

Walking through wildflowers along the Sobranes Canyon trail.

Walking through wildflowers along the Sobranes Canyon trail.



Walking along the stream through redwoods on the Sobranes Canyon trail.


The path starts to cut up the mountain leaving the shady redwood grove below.  There is little reprieve from the steep incline.  As the trail goes above the tree line, the hillside turns into a sea of wildflowers and grass swirling and flowing with the wind.  One of my favorite things about Big Sur has always been the wildflowers and how the bright oranges, purples, and yellows contrast against the golden hillsides.

Vistas of the surrounding valleys start to come into view as you climb higher onto the ridge. Now high above Highway 1, the sound of the cars passing below by is lost in the wind.


The Sobranes Canyon ‘money shot’

As Sobranes Canyon trail finally plateaus, catch the Rocky Ridge trail and head towards the ridge facing the coast for mind blowing views of the coastline.  The day we went was mostly clear and we could see to Hurricane Point to the south and Carmel Highlands to the north.  A bench in memorandum to some ‘Pete’ is perched amongst boulders on the ridge.  A peaceful spot to sit and soak in the breathtaking Big Sur coastline.


After resting our legs at the bench, we continued on the Rocky Ridge switchback trail down the mountain.  The trail down is a very steep descent and hard on the knees, but went quickly compared to the hike up the canyon and to the top of the ridge.


Sobranes Canyon is a challenging day hike with stunning rewards.  Pack plenty of water, sunscreen and check for ticks.