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Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hikingYou know when you have a day where all is right with the world and you are so happy that you can feel it oozing out of you? Where you worry if you blink the scenery will disappear? This was me during my perfect run.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Is this real life?

On our second day in Monterey, my brother-in-law Adam took us to Garrapata State Park for a 5ish mile trail run/hike. Garrapata sits in the San Lucia foothills and is right outside Carmel and about 15 miles from Big Sur.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Listen closely and you can hear the waves breaking and seals barking

The hubs and I are big hikers and particularly love Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, western Canada—we’re mountain snobs. Epic views or it’s not worth lacing up the shoes. But Garrapata was by far one of—if not the—best trails we’ve ever done.

What endeared me to Garrapata first was its lack of flashiness. No park fees, no picnic tables, no families with screaming kids—you literally pull over on the side of the highway and look closely for the almost-unmarked trailhead. Which both baffles and pleases me, because they could charge $50/person and it’d be worth every penny, yet they choose to keep it one of Monterey’s best kept secrets.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Trail leading down to the beach

We explored and took pictures of the trails leading down to the beach a little before crossing the highway and hitting the main trail. You could hear the seals barking on the rocks below, and the water was this gorgeous blue. And the wildflowers! They were everywhere! Different shades of blue, orange, white, yellow—the whole thing was like a fairy tale.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

I spy some tiny Sylvans

We started on the backside of the trail with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, wildflowers, and cacti before running into a forest full of redwoods. It’s crazy because when you start the trail it’s almost desert-like with lizards running everywhere and cacti, and then BAM you’re in the middle of a dense forest with monster trees. This was my first time seeing redwoods, and they didn’t disappoint with their larger-than-life trunks.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Hill work!

We literally climbed out of the forest using a staircase made from roots and trees and started our 1,500 ft ascent to the top of the hill. The trail was all packed dirt—a dream to run on compared to the gnarled roots and rocks we have to watch out for in Alabama. Parts of the trail were washed out and therefore slippery and so much fun to try and run up and slide back down.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Tell me you wouldn’t live here forever

The entire descent was unreal—mountains and ocean and wildflowers all around. Every few steps you took it felt like the view got even better, which made for a million and one photo ops. It was easier to coax the boys to run downhill, and they even admitted to wanting to try trail running again! I’m sure it didn’t hurt that we’d run for a few yards, stop for pictures, then rinse and repeat.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

My happy place

If I lived in this part of California, I’d want to run this trail every.single.day. There were so many offshoots that we didn’t get a chance to explore, and with views like that I can’t imagine ever getting bored of the route. Hell, I’d give up being a part of regular society to just live in a tent on that land. Y’all I’m not even joking—I’d be the happiest girl living out there. Just come check on me every now and then to make sure that the mountain lions haven’t eaten me.

Here are some more pics, not that they do the trail justice:

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

View of the San Lucia Mountains from the trailhead

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

In case you were wondering, yes I touched one and yes it is sharp

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

A true Color Run

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

California cheesin’

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

One view from the summit

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Look at that singletrack – smooth as a baby’s bottom

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Boys at the summit

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Adam caught my reaction running downhill as a lizard ran across my feet

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Run Sylvans, run!

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Love

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

Because standing still and smiling is boring

Garrapata State Park, Monterey, Carmel, California, trail running, hiking

All drives on Highway 1 must be in a convertible