Carmel River, Ventana Wilderness

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The Carmel River creates Los Padres lake. Driving to the parking lot of the lake is easy from Carmel: follow signs for Carmel Valley and then continue 5 minutes, turn right into Cachagua Rd and drive 16 kms to the dead end.

The trail coasts the lake and then forks. One trail heads for Bottcher's Gap. The other one follows the Carmel River upstream. The route is not difficult (gentle up and down) but it involves wading the creek several times. The first one is usually done by walking on dead trees. The second one (about 1.5 hours into the hike) requires taking your shoes off. In spring the water is above the knees. The third and major crossing is actually four crossings within 10 minutes (if confused, note that the trail continues on the very same side where you entered the water, and the whole point of the four crossings is simply to bypass a vertical wall of rock). It takes about two hours to reach Carmel River camp.

Hence don't forget

  • Gloves (lots of poison oak)
  • Long pants and long sleeves (lots of poison oak)
  • Insect repellent (lots of ticks and flies)
  • Hiking poles or stick to help wade the creeks
  • Sandals of at least some plastic bags to wrap your feet when you wade the creeks (very rocky creekbeds)
Like most hikes in the Ventana Wilderness, this is not for the faint of heart even if it looks mild on the map.
  • Pictures of these hikes
  • Monterey rangers: (831) 385-5434
  • Ventana Wilderness map
  • Trail conditions
  • Flora and fauna of the Ventana Wilderness
    Other recommended hikes in the Ventana Wilderness:

    Poison Oak warning: anywhere at low altitude poison oak is a major annoyance. You *will* be touching poison oak. So i recommend long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and wash yourself in cold water after the hike.

    Tick warning: ticks are ubiquitous. Another reason to cover your body.