California's Ragged Point in Big Sur Country

Contributed by Matt W
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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.