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Soberanes Canyon: Rocky Ridge Trail Loop - meal & drinks at Peppers afterward

  • May 12, 2012 · 9:30 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

This is one of the most strenuous, demanding and rewarding hikes hosted by this meetup group.  If you are not in condition for steep sustained ascents and decents in the hot sun or possible cold/fog and cannot hike 7 miles under these conditions do not sign up for this event.


Please state or update your RSVP as to whether you will be meeting up with us at Gateway or the trailhead so the group doesn't spend time waiting for you at the location you will not be meeting us at.  Please also state or update your RSVP if you will be joining us for the after hike meal at Peppers so we have a firm headcount for the restaurant.

What to bring: Sunscreen, plenty of water, tick repellent, layered clothing, camera, a light lunch or snack, hiking poles/hiking sticks (highly recommended), and a couple of bucks to kick in for gas for your carpool driver.

Garrapata State Park boasts one of the most incredible trail loops in the entire central coast and it is currently scheduled for closure on July 1, 2012. Our hike will be approximately 7 miles round trip with 1,850-foot elevation gain and approximately 5 hours give or take in duration depending upon length and number of breaks, etc.

Please read the FAQ page at [url=]. By joining us on this hike you agree to hold the organizers, assistant organizers, and other members harmless. You are responsible for your own safety on the hike and any expense for medivac services should you have a problem in this rough and remote terrain.

NOTE: This meetup is at an earlier time than usual because of the longer driving time. Carpool at 9:30 AM. NINE THIRTY. Informal carpools should be arranged individually. We will meet at the Gateway Plaza in Santa Cruz at 9:30 AM, and our caravan of vehicles will leave NO LATER than 9:40AM from the parking lot. Alternatively you can meet us at the Sorberanes Canyon trailhead on Hwy 1. at 10:50 AM. We WILL HIT THE TRAIL AT 11:00 AM SHARP.

After the hike we will go for a post hike meal at Peppers Mexicali Cafe in Pacific Grove (The food is excellent and Peppers was a big hit with everyone the last time we hosted an event there). We have a reservation at 4:30 PM and YOU NEED YOU TO INDICATE IN YOUR RSVP WHETHER YOU WILL BE JOINING US FOR THE MEAL BY NOON ON FRIDAY!!!! IF YOU HAVEN'T INDICATED THAT YOU ARE JOINING US FOR THE MEAL BY NOON ON FRIDAY, THERE WILL NOT BE A SPOT RESERVED FOR YOU. PLEASE ARRANGE YOUR CARPOOL ACCORDINGLY IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO JOIN THE GROUP FOR THE POST HIKE MEAL (or didn't RSVP as we requested). It is a big drag for the driver when he/she wants to join the group for a post hike meal and someone in their car has other commitments or just wants to go home after the hike.

We will take the Soberanes Canyon Trail and the Rocky Ridge Trail. Taken together, these trails form a roughly 7-mile loop with approximately 1,850 feet of elevation gain, encompassing the redwood-shaded canyon of Soberanes Creek and sweeping coastal views from Rocky Ridge. NOTE THAT THIS IS A VERY STRENUOUS HIKE, WITH STEEP ASCENTS AND DESCENTS, IN THE SUN, AND IS NOT SUITED FOR BEGINNING HIKERS. The trailhead for both the Soberanes Canyon and Rocky Ridge trails is at a highway turnout at county road mileage marker 65.8 on Highway 1, 7.1 miles south of the Intersection of Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road. Look for cars parked near a gate under a grove of Cypress trees along the East side of Hwy. 1. We will start off at Hwy. 1., walking east past an old barn, then bearing right and hiking up the Soberanes Canyon trail along Soberanes Creek crossing it several times. The trail starts out fairly flat and passes through a patch of non-native cactus then chaparral (with lots of poison oak). It continues through a strip of redwoods that lines the canyon floor which then gets wider and more scenic as we go further up the canyon. Once we leave the Redwood Canyon, the remainder of the hike is through the Chaparral so you should have adequate sunscreen protection. The ascent is extremely steep over a bare rocky face of the mountain in direct sun; it can be extremely hot going up this slope so you should HAVE plenty of H2O. The decent is also fairly steep and covered with  scree however not as steep as the ascent, and the expansive vistas of the Big Sur/Monterey coast make it well worth it and extremely rewarding.

The Rocky Ridge Trail will intersect on our left and we will start the first and steepest half of the ascent to the ridge which has no steps. It is approximately 0.4 miles with an average gradient of 32%. It's very slow going up the steep, sandy slope. If you slip you won't fall off a cliff but shoes with good traction are essential, and hiking poles or a hiking stick are very helpful and highly recommended. The second half of the ascent is particularly scenic, with the redwood-lined canyon far below and behind us stretching off into the distance, the barking of sea lions echoing up the canyon, and if we hit it right, an amazing carpet of wildflowers all around us. (I was informed that last week the wildflowers were in bloom and spectacular so it should be a good show. Don't forget to take your camera!).







The second leg of the climb is 0.3 miles with an average gradient of 14%. There are some steps in this area, but they are badly eroded and not much use.




When we get to the top we will hike around the back of the mountain back toward the coast passing some of the best views of the hike. There will be a steep decent to a bench on the ridge top with panoramic views. We will take a break here, and if we haven't decided to eat yet, we can eat a light lunch/snack here taking in the views. After a break and some photos, we will follow the ridge and begin our very steep decent down the ocean facing slope of the mountain, with views of the Pacific in the distance. The grade will eventually become gentle turning toward the coast crossing a stream and leading us back past the barn we first passed on the way in.

If you are interested in going for a meal and some drinks after the hike, some of us will be stopping off at a Peppers Mexicali Cafe in Pacific Grove before driving back to Santa Cruz.

Note: Please refer back to the carpooling info above so you will have a ride back to Santa Cruz if you don’t want to join us for food and drinks after the hike.

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  • David T

    Nicely tired. Great day in the sun. Bea-U-TI-ful. Fun dinner too!

    May 13, 2012

  • Steve W.

    A more forceful display of wildflowers than last year's hike. One of the best hikes ever! Thank you Ron and Meryl for excellently organizing this hike again. This springtime hike is a memory maker.

    May 13, 2012

  • Ron

    Thank you everyone for joining us and making it such a fastastic & fun day!

    May 13, 2012

  • Joan

    Best ever!

    May 13, 2012

  • Heather

    Amazing! So much fun, thanks.

    May 13, 2012

  • Mary

    One of the best wildflowers I've ever been on! The company was excellent as well. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon. (Steve)

    May 13, 2012

  • Kristin

    Best. Hike. Ever. :)
    Thank you, Meryl and Ron!!!

    May 13, 2012

  • Sandy

    Wonderful Experience ! Like walking through an endless bouquet of amazing wildflowers ------ nice folks, good food after . Thanks Ron and Meryl for hosting :-}

    May 13, 2012

  • Jeff

    Absolutely SPECTACULAR! I have never seen wild flowers out like they were today. Thanks Ron & Meryl.

    May 12, 2012

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