Better Late than Never: Spending a day navigating Garrapata State Park’s epic trails and the delicious beers of Alvarado Street Brewing

Sadly our time in Monterey draws to a close. Next month we move from Monterey to Millington, Tennessee for my wife’s next assignment with the Navy. While we are sad to be leaving this beautiful area, we look forward to what lies ahead and all the paths & pilsners in our new home.

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In the military, moving is inevitable.

In the time I have remaining, I hope to finish my posts of the major trails and breweries on the Monterey peninsula. The first path up: Garrapata State Park just south of Carmel.

As you venture south on Highway 1, if you’re not paying attention you might miss Garrapata State Park. While it often doesn’t get the attention of parks like Point Lobos, Andrew Molera, or Big Sur, Garrapata is no less as beautiful. Located about six and a half miles south of Carmel Highlands, Garrapata straddles Highway 1 with incredible trails and views on both sides. In the last three years, however, Garrapata was associated with something much more grim: the Soberanes Fire of 2016 which destroyed 132,127 acres. According to the Monterey Herald, “The Soberanes Fire started July 22, 2016, eventually destroying 57 homes and 11 outbuildings. Firefighters determined an illegal campfire at Garrapata State Park caused the blaze.” Even today the fire’s scars appear through the Soberanes Canyon Trail. Since running Andrew Molera nearly two years ago, checking out Garrapata was on my to do list. Last week I finally got to it. (and yes, I am a bit of a procrastinator)

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Driving south along Highway 1

Trying to beat the traffic of Monterey Car Week, I got on the road early down to Garrrapata. If you’ve ever been in Monterey during Car Week, you’ll know what I mean—and for those who haven’t, it’s an incredible time to come visit as the peninsula comes alive once again with the most beautiful and expensive cars you can imagine. Of course this also means droves of people causing traffic to go insane, but eh, that’s the price you pay. C’est la vie, right? And because of this, I ventured out a little after 8am to get down and run by 9. Along with the risk of traffic, “Fogust” conditions bore down on the peninsula reducing visibility to less than a quarter of a mile.

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Fog at the water’s edge

I hoped that once I got far enough south, the fog might lift. Fortunately, luck was on my side both with traffic and the fog. Coming out of Carmel Highlands, the sky cleared leaving me a gorgeous view of the coast to the south. With that said and doing my homework, I parked on the east side of Highway 1 at the trail head of the Soberanes Canyon.

Looking at maps & websites I saw on the east side of the highway there was a 4.7 mile loop east through Soberanes Canyon up to the Rocky Ridge Trail which first goes north, then turns back west down the mountain face before eventually meeting back up with the Soberanes Canyon trail again.

 

Now the websites also mentioned that out of this loop, only the first 1.5 miles of the Soberanes Canyon trail were actually opened. I hoped for the best but upon arriving learned that this was still true. Still running out and back would be 3 miles and there existed trails west of the highway too, so why not? With a small pack of water, I ventured out along the Soberanes Canyon trail. The terrain transformed from a dry rocky aridness complete with cactus and dry brush to lush redwood trees and the Soberanes Creek flowing alongside.

 

The trail leapfrogged again and again over the creek affording me the opportunity to practice my hopscotch skills. While the trail slowly ascended into the canyon, it wasn’t anything insurmountable by a long shot. It was a nice rise which I took in stride.

 

Finally I hit the 1.5 mile mark and the end of the trail. While the trail was still visible in front of me, it was obvious it wasn’t maintained. Unfamiliar with the terrain and trying to stay in bounds, I opted not to go further. I snapped some photos, turned around and headed back west.

 

Once I got to the highway, I crossed over to the trails near the ocean. Trading the lush redwoods for the magnificent vistas of the coast I was no less in awe of my surroundings. I followed the Soberanes Point Trail to the south and then trotted up to Whale Peak, before coming back down and encircling this mount.

 

Doing a little out and back, I eventually came back to my starting point and then ventured a bit further north along the trail. The view were no less than stunning throughout. My pictures below don’t even begin to do them justice.

 

Finally with another two miles under my belt and just over 5 for the day complete, I ended back at my car along Highway 1. I stretched out, grabbed some more water, and drove back north for a much deserved lunch.

 

In finding the right brewery to match with Garrapata, Alvarado Street Brewing (ASB) seemed like the only logical choice. Just like Garrapata, I have been meaning to write about Alvarado for quite some time, however, did I mention I was a proscratinator? This was the perfect chance. Cleaning myself off in my car with some body wipes, I threw on some pants and a polo and met my wife at ASB for a little lunch. The brewery only opened in 2014, but already has a great reputation for outstanding beers. Only last year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Alvarado took home the gold medal in the International Pale Ale competition with their Mai Tai Pale Ale. 20190813_123302Clearly these folks know what they’re doing. Going along my usual tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), I ordered a tasting flight of 4 beers, an order of roasted Brussel sprouts, and a Cubano sandwich. The food was just as good as the beers in my opinion. My choices for beers were diverse but delicious. Here’s the rundown:

New Haze: a juicy hazy dry hopped pale ale fully of flavor, but not overly bitter or heavy on the alcohol coming in at 5.5% abv.

Mai Tai P.A: I couldn’t come here and not have their gold medal winner. This tropical-flavored West Coast styled IPA is every bit as a good as it sounds, abounding with flavors of passion fruit and guava to name but a few of the flavors you’ll find in it.

Champagne Hopi: this is ASB’s first iteration of a Brut-style IPA, one of the latest crazes on the IPA scene. While it sits a bit higher on the abv content at 7%, it has a light effervescent taste to it, so as to disguise the packed punch it contains. Definitely a winner!

Margtime: Another great flavored beer by ASB! This gose style kettle sour is a complex mix of lime, Big Sur sea salt, and a hint of agave, and tastes so good! If you’re looking for an alternative to IPAs, this kettle sour might just be what you need. It really hit the spot for me!

20190813_141401I finished up lunch with a full glass of Margtime reflecting on the day so far and making mental notes of all that I’d done. It was only 1:30pm. Paying our bill, I kissed my wife as she left to go back to work. I in turn opted to go back and have one more in ASB’s beer garden on the back side of the brewery. The weather was beautiful and besides there were other beers to be explored, and other paths to decide on. My time running short, why not make the most of it? See you out there on the trails! Prost!

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