On the South Bank

What if you are up for an adventure, but only a tiny one? South Bank Trail is a 1.5-mile-long, extremely accessible trail off Carmel Valley Road. It meanders along the south bank of the Carmel River and is home to a dense forest of black cottonwood, arroyo willow, box elder and Western sycamore. The path starts at Rancho San Carlos Road and it is pedestrian-, bicycle – and dog-friendly. In summer, the river is barely detectable, but at this time of the year, it runs audaciously and audibly along the path toward Palo Corona Regional Park (you can hop on the extensive network of trails there, if there’s an appetite for more). The meadows are known for their quail populations, but baby quails’ wails are certainly not the only attraction there. At this time of the year, expect a carpet of fallen sycamore leaves (for a full color palette) and buckeye seeds in abundance. There are two ways to do it: The asphalt road, or a parallel meadowy path that runs along, and boy, it does meander, so don’t give up – they connect a few times. The second part of the trail runs along Rancho El Potrero (now adorned with Christmas wreaths), providing great views of happy cattle and a fantastically shaped slope above. The project is owned by the Big Sur Land Trust and maintained by MPRPD. [AP]

Trail begins at Rancho San Carlos Road at Valley Greens Drive, Carmel.

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