California's Ragged Point in Big Sur Country

Contributed by Matt W
Post contains affiliate links.

Working in California, away from home and family, has it's ups and downs. During fire season, the days can be long, and the weeks even longer. One small blessing is that when a day off comes, there is no shortage of options for either relaxing or getting out to explore. As I normally choose the getting out and doing something option, today let me tell you about my recent hike along the California coast...

Presented with the opportunity to drive along the California coast between Cambria and Carmel by the Sea, California, my original plan was to go and investigate a light house close to the William Randolph Hearst seaside residence, The Hearst Castle.  While driving down California Hwy 1, however, I found that my chosen destination was fogged in and my way was blocked by a metal gate. It required me to seek another adventure.  Continuing north up the highway I came across Ragged Point.

Ragged Point California

Ragged Point, California, is only about 1-1/2 miles north of the Hearst Castle turnoff, and home to a small, but well-liked inn with gift shops and restaurants. There is access to very family-friendly hiking from the inn on the Ragged Point Fire Road Hiking Trail, but that goes up and when I'm out exploring at the ocean, I want to get down as near to it as possible. The most rewarding part of my day was discovering an aged wooden staircase that lead down to a small protected cove and a beach flanked with enormous rocks on either side.

Ragged Point Trail

Be warned, the trail down is steep, sometimes very steep. It is maintained, however, and with an occasional tree to duck under, it turned out to be a little fun. Along the way I encountered a large number of interesting vegetation we definitely don't have in Montana, and even a few reptiles scurrying about.  Once arriving at the bottom of the trail, it actually turns out to be a very pleasant place to be for an afternoon hike.

California Beaches

DISCLAIMER: I am very unfamiliar with the ocean and how tides work. From where I was standing it did look like at the right (or wrong?) times, the beach could be underwater. Please be aware of that and ask around before finding yourselves unexpectedly swimming.

I also would advise to wear proper footwear. Anyone who reads A Local Wander knows that Michelle is a huge advocate for hiking in sandals. On this particular trail, I was in sandals and wished I'd worn something a little more protective and sturdy. Parts of the trail are loose dirt, and once at the bottom exploring will require you to scale a variety of rocks. Something with good traction and good fit will do you well. Please don't try it in flip-flops!

California Beach Hiking

All in all, my last minute excursion was a great bit of fun. It was a good workout (afterall, don't forget you have to walk back up that steep hill) and was a great way to see some beautiful landscape. Keep it in mind if you're ever traveling along passed Ragged Point on California's Hwy 1!

Want to know more?
Check out this article on the Ragged Point Fire Road Trail.
An alternate write-up from the Big Sur Visitor's Bureau.
Information on the Ragged Point Inn.

Welcome To Our New A Local Wander Contributor

I have mentioned recently through our many A Local Wander outlets that this summer has seen some changes in how often our family can get out to explore. That transition has created a fantastic opportunity to reach out to a few good friends who share our love of travel and outdoor adventuring and ask them to share a few of the places they've been visiting. To start us off, today I'd like to introduce you to one of my oldest friends, Matt...

Matt and I met in 2000, when he came to work for me as a bellman at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge outside Denali National Park in Alaska.  A native of Montana, the Alaska backcountry quickly became like a second home full of opportunities for camping and hiking. I will tell you that one of my favorite memories is dragging Matt up a not so strenuous, but oh so very windy, hiking trail kicking and screaming the whole way. (I think he will deny the whole excursion ever happened). Fortunately, there were many more successful outings to hide that one behind.

After attending Utah State University, Matt enlisted in the United States Army and moved to Texas, and then Germany. Between being stationed there, and visiting other family also living in Europe, Matt has been fortunate to travel quite a bit "on the continent." And now, after a stint in Tennessee, Montana is once again home.

So what does Matt have ready to share with you?  In his own words...
"Hello everyone! I have always been somewhat impulsive and adventurous.  The only thing I have ever fully committed to is my amazing wife, Alisha. Throughout my life I have always made last minute decisions, with an appreciation for the experiences those choices have given to me."    
During the past 2 summers, those decisions have taken Matt to California for work as an aviation mechanic with Neptune Aviation, a company providing firefighting aircraft to government agencies managing and extinguishing wildland fires.

While the work is hard and the days are long, there are occasional opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, and numberless locations for beautiful photography.

Matt has offered to share some of the central California outings he has taken here on A Local Wander with you. I hope you will welcome him, leave him your thoughts, and starting tomorrow when he shares photos from a recent hike near Ragged Point, add a few new destinations to your California bucket list!.

Packing to Hike With Kids

Getting outside on a hiking trail is one of the cheapest and easiest things a family can do together. With cities across the country recognizing the importance of green open space, it is becoming increasingly easy to find a place to explore without having to look too far.  Even better news is that it is just as easy to pack for a day hike with children. With a small amount of preparation, you can be out the door with dirt beneath your feet in no time.

The first thing you will want to consider is comfort on the trail. Primarily, does everyone have comfortable shoes for hiking? Our boys almost always prefer to wear their hiking sandals over tennis shoes, and as a parent, I honestly prefer that, too. It is inevitable that they will find water or mud and walk right through it. Sandals dry quickly and also do not become heavy when they get wet. If your kids are going out in sneakers, make sure to pack an extra pair of socks, so that when their shoes get wet, they can change into a dry protective layer once the temptation of water is behind them.
Once the feet are taken care of, comfort can shift to the rest of the body. Cold, clouds, or drizzle don’t have to keep you inside. The key to hiking with kids is layers, especially if you plan to change elevation, are starting off early in the morning, or can’t get the weatherman to nail down what the skies are going to do that day. A jacket over a lightweight shirt can be taken on and off as the day gets warmer and colder or clouds move in and out. A breathable rainsuit can also keep them clean and dry.

Of course, if your kids are going to be dressing and undressing throughout the day, someone is going to need to be carrying something to hold everything in. Depending on age that might be Mom and Dad, or it might be the kids themselves. A sturdy backpack will fit the bill, keep your hands free, and also contain the following items:

Hiking With Kids

Even if you only plan to go a short distance, having water along is extremely important. When our boys turn 3, they receive their very own water hydration pack to carry. It empowers them on the trail, keeps everyone moving along as we don’t have to stop every time they want a drink, and keeps their spit and germs to themselves. If you opt for a water bottle, choose one that is lightweight and reusable.

Food serves two purposes on the trail. First, it can replace the nutrients and energy used while traversing over rugged terrain. Salty snacks like peanuts and pretzels help to replace the sodium you’ll lose on a hot sweaty day and these backpack energy bites are full of protein. The second use for snacks on the trail? Motivation! When everyone starts to get tired and little ones want to be carried, it works wonders to pull out a lollipop or licorice stick and promise to bestow it as soon as they’ve reached the next landmark or curve in the path.

First Aid Kit 
Hiking with kids is not a daunting task, but it is likely you will experience trips and falls, scrapes and bumps along the way. Be prepared with a few bandages, antibiotic ointment, a pair of tweezers for splinters, and kisses for all those boo-boos. Here are more good tips on keeping safe while hiking with kids.

This is the step in packing that is sometimes easy to forget, but sunburn is a surefire way to convince kids they never want to go hiking with the family again. Even in a shaded area, sun filters through. Working up a sweat, or on a breezy day, you may not notice that the sun has turned everybody a rosy shade of pink. In addition to the cheeks and nose, keep in mind that on uneven dirt trails, kids will often be looking down, exposing the back of the neck. That is the spot we often forget to cover and we pay for it over and over again.

Nature Journal 
The best part about hiking with kids is how excited they are to be in nature. Kids naturally are inquisitive and when you get them outdoors they can be incredibly observant as well. Capitalize on that curiosity by providing a way for them to record what they are seeing. It can be as simple as a few sheets of paper and a pencil or a pocket notebook. If you are looking for something a little more organized, there are a dozens of printed nature books that can be filled in.

We make our favorite “journal” by stacking several paper lunch bags together, folding in half, and stapling the spine. The boys carry them and stop whenever they want to draw what they see, glue seeds and leaves on a page, and pick up a feather or other small momento to stick into the pockets. No matter what version you bring along, don’t forget to pack some colored pencils and a glue stick.

Hiking with kids

The last consideration to make when packing for a hiking trip is how to carry the kids. We start giving our boys independence and responsibility to move themselves along at a pretty early age, but the transition from being in a baby carrier to walking the whole way can be tough. Our lifesaver has been the Piggyback Rider! Clipped onto the parent’s harness, kids can turn and lean and look around freely. And when they can’t make up their minds about being up or down, it is easy to let them on or off, and get on your way. 

Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids is an easy way to spend time together as a family. Gather this short list of supplies together one time and you will be ready to head out on the trail whenever you have a whim to!

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Clicking on any of these links and making a purchase will not affect your purchase, 
but will help me earn a little money for my family.