We all love Carmel for the great hotels, restaurants, arts galleries and coastal beauty, but I also love Carmel because it is such a great walking town. In addition to the many great walks along the water, here is one of my favorite walks that I don’t think even many locals take advantage of.
This walk is only a couple of miles round trip from the Tradewinds, and will take you past the Forest Theater, through one of my favorite Carmel neighborhoods, onto the Mission Trail Nature Preserve, and to the historic Carmel Mission.
It does involve an unpaved trail and a few small hills, so plan accordingly for footwear, and on a warm day be sure to bring some water with you (you might even stop by Bruno’s Market on the way for a light picnic. I recommend the warm tri-tip sandwich! Bruno’s is on the corner of Junipero and 6th, and this walk takes you right by there.)
Here are the directions for the walk (also including more information) in case the map is not clear enough:
1) From the Tradewinds, head south (towards downtown) on Mission Street. One block before Ocean, on the 6th Avenue, take a left and walk up to Junipero, passing on the back side of Devendorf Park.
2) Stop at Bruno’s Market (just across Junipero) for picnic supplies or just a bottle of water)
3) Head south on Junipero until you get to Ocean Avenue. Cross at Ocean and turn left up Mountain View (this road angles southeast out of that five-way intersection at Ocean)
4) Once on Mountain View, take your first right onto Torres. This is one of my favorite streets in Carmel, especially the stretch between 8th and 11th. Torres rides the ridge at this point, with the Mission Trail on the East side, and the valley occupied by Junipero to the West. This street also has many Carmel bungalows of the old style (they have not all been fully remodeled, and at the end near 11th passes by one of the most unique homes in Carmel, a 3-story Tuscan-style villa. Torres will dead-end into 11th Ave, and this is near where you get on the Mission Trail.
5) Turn left on 11th, and admire the Tuscan villa on your left. I love those massive wooden gates. Stay to the right on 11th, and you will come to a fire road gate. This is where you get on the Mission Trail. There is an opening just to the left of the gate.
6) once past the gate, walk about 30 yards and look for a little foot bridge to your left. This is where you will cross the creek over to the Sierra Trail on the Mission Trail Preserve. NOTE: Stay on the trail and be careful of touching plants unless you know what they are. Poison oak is common in the preserve.
7) Once across the bridge, turn right and head down the hill on the Sierra Trail. This will bring you down to Rio Road, and to the Carmel Mission.
8.) Once at Rio Road, cross the street and walk about 100 yards to the north and explore the Carmel Mission.
THE RETURN TRIP
9) Get back on the Mission Trail where you exited onto Rio Road. You will follow the Sierra Trail all the way to its end. You will know you are at the trail’s end when you come to a large bridge going to your left (this will be about 5 minute’s walk past the small bridge you crossed over earlier.) There will be a small trail that continues on in the direction of the trail you were on, but it will be obviously smaller and not well travelled.
10) Cross the bridge and continue the 30 or so yards to the end of the trail.
11) Continue in the direction you were walking, and you will be back on Mountain View, heading West. Continue in this direction. It will take you back to Ocean Avenue and the five-way stop in the heart of down-town.
12) While on Mountain View, note that you will pass the Forest Theater (on your right at Santa Rita). The Forest Theater is the oldest outdoor community theater west of the Rockies, and except during the Winter offers plays and outdoor movies.
13) To return to the Tradewinds, simply head down Ocean to Mission, then head north on Mission to 3rd Ave.
For a longer variation of the walk, you could:
a) While in the Mission Trail Preserve, Deviate onto the Flanders trail to visit the historic Flanders Mansion. While there, take a stroll through the Lester Rowntree Native Plant Garden.
b) Continue on past the Carmel Mission to the lagoon and walk along the water on Scenic, back to Ocean Avenue. (Take Lansen Drive past the Mission, to Carmelo. Left on Carmelo, and keep walking. Carmelo turns into Scenic at the lagoon, and will take you back to Ocean Avenue along the water.
What’s your favorite place to walk or hike in Carmel, or anywhere on the peninsula? Share your stories as a comment below.