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    • Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley is a local's favorite hiking spot. Tucked away from a touristy Carmel by the Sea, it is only 15 minutes drive inland. If the fog covers the coastline, Galand Ranch is likely to be a sunny and welcoming hike.

      The park has three distinct areas to explore: flat riverside loop, hillside trails, and the lookout tower at the summit. For an easy nature walk, the flat loop by the river is best. Most people don't venture up the steep trails; fewer still know that there is the lookout tower at the top.

    • We started our hike at Garland Ranch by crossing the bridge on the right side of the visitor center and headed straight for the hills. Here is our entire hiking route.

    • The best time to start hiking at Garland Ranch is early in the morning or in the evening for sunset viewing. We were late and had to climb up the hills in the heat of the day.

    • Only a few steps in, we encountered these beautiful bush with blooming flowers.

    • There is a hidden homestead site right off the trail with a eucalyptus grove next to it. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a picture with this tree.

    • Only a few inches above the ground, we found these tasty wild berries. They look like wild strawberries, but we couldn't find the actual name.

    • Despite their tiny size, these berries packed ten times the flavor. They were fragrant and delicious.

    • At the top of the ridge, there is a bench to rest. We could see the final destination - Pinyon Lookout Tower and the valley below.

    • The lookout tower was so close, yet so far away. We had to make a quick descent and immediately climb back up to it.

    • The trail heads under the tree canopy and splits in two. Take the right side to avoid having to boulder down a rocky trail. Both trails merge back just a few hundred feet ahead.

    • There is a picnic table right next to the tower with spectacular 360-degree views of the Carmel Valley, Big Sur, Carmel by the Sea and Monterey Bay.

    • On the way back, we took a quick selfie to remember this hike. Five years ago, I did this hike solo, but this time it was a lot more fun to do together!

    • We retraced our steps back down the trail but took a shortcut via the Fern Trail.