Summary: Head out on the gated road, along the Arroyo Seco gorge. The dirt road twists and winds along the eastern edge of the gorge, and provides some great views of the creek below.
At about 1.75 miles, the trail forks, left heads uphill, and right heads downhill. Take the right fork, and stay next to the gorge.
After 2.3 miles, there is a sign for Horse Bridge, and large shoulder on the dirt road. A trail leads down to the bridge and the creek. The beach and water is perfect for wading on hot days.
Heading back up the way you came, this time take the left fork. This leads uphill, then back downhill on the dirt road to the Santa Lucia Ranger Station. At this point, take the trail as it veers uphill, and off to the left. Keep heading uphill, and the trail will climb over the hill to the left, and back down. This leads into a flat valley with oaks and grasses, and stay to the left at the bottom of the valley. This leads back around to the lakes and parking.
Trailhead: Driving from Highway 1, turn east on Carmel Valley Road at Carmel By The Sea, and head into Carmel Valley. Take this road until it T's, then turn right.
Driving from Highway 101 South, exit Arroyo Seco Road, just north of Greenfield, and take it to the end of the road.
Driving from Highway 101 North, exit Greenfield, 101 Business. This is El Camino Real. Take a left at Elm Ave/CR-G16. Take G-16 to Arroyo Seco road. You will cross a bridge right at the end of G16, make a left, drive up to Arroyo Seco road, then turn left (west), and drive to the end of the road.
The end of the road will be Arroyo Seco campground, and the trailhead begins at the gate at the end of the road. (Lat:36.23443 Lon:-121.48763)
Trail Guides for Horse Bridge:
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Bikes,
Ranger Contact: Monterey Ranger District - (831) 385-5434
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by David Zwarg, who has posted 9 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by peter on 7/13/2009
Last year's fires have 2 great effects on this season at Arroyo Seco. The gorge is CLEAN (as clean as it can get). And, the water level is higher than normal this year (consider fewer trees and more run off)
Reviewed by JMS on 2/15/2008
It is true, packed with thugs. Not really sure how they could fix that problem but it's a beautiful area, excluding the broken cervezas bottles and cans everywhere. Darn shame actually.
Reviewed by Mike on 6/3/2005
In the summer the temperature can get into the 100's making for a vey miserable hike in and out. The "creek" (actually the Arroyo Seco River) is littered with trash and broken glass between Horse Bridge and Arroyo Seco Public Camp. On weekends, Street Gangs from Salinas and nearby cities often congregate here and may cause trouble. Almost every year there are 3-4 drownings in the river, mostly due to idiots cliff or rock diving into unknown waters with strong currents. Definitely stay out of the canyon in winter, early and late spring as this turns into a Class 5 rapids. Hiking up the river from Horse Bridge is nice during the week, but on weekends it can be very crowded. Not so much trash up the river from the Bridge, but still trashy.
Reviewed by Jill on 12/28/2004
Jordan and I hiked the Horse Bridge to the river, which was littered with trash and other garbage. Tons of families there, with their diapered babies fouling the water with their rancid bodily wastes. Disgusting. Biting black flies and biting spiders were everywhere. Jordan snapped a front tooth off at the roots while swimming the the fast dangerous current (his face hit a rock). Not recomended.
Reviewed by peter on 7/13/2004
I'd suggest an alternate. At the horse bridge enter the river and hike up or down. The most spectacular scenery is actually in the river gorge. The river is hikable, with a few pools which you MUST swim. It's an unforgettable hike through the gorge.
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