The town center of Carmel-by-the-Sea is magical. Remarkably picturesque - the type of place that you could picture Pixar using as a romantic backdrop in a film. This central Californian town is located 120 miles south of San Francisco and just north of Big Sur, a world-renowned town romanticized through song, film, and literature for its wild, untamed beauty. Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-Sea often go hand-in-hand; explore Big Sur's wilderness in the day and come back to relax in Carmel-by-the-Sea's charming village in the afternoon. However, as perfect as the downtown of Carmel is, my favorite part of the town is its coastal wilderness. I had driven down PCH1 passing by Carmel to go straight to Big Sur multiple times before. This trip was my turn to correct my previous mistakes.
One of my favorite things about Carmel-by-the-Sea is how easy it is to explore a path void of any other humans. While it's always good to visit a new place with a little knowledge of the best sights, my favorite spots on this journey were discovered by chance. What would appear to most people as just dirt turn-outs are so much more. So many of these unsuspecting dirt patches on the side of the road have at least one nearly hidden opening. These openings lead to unnamed trails that have clearly been traveled by many before as there is always a clear path. However, because the openings are typically unmarked, few people relative to the amount of cars that pass by ever bother to stop and wonder, leaving the trail empty. One piece of advice if you do choose to stray down one of these trails: be aware of which route you take to avoid getting lost - they often split into to separate paths. Getting lost on an unnamed trail without cell service as the sun is setting can be quite nerve-wracking - I would know.