Monterey County

Date reviewed - 8/05
Fun . . . . . . . . 4
Difficulty . . . . .High
Traffic . . . . . . Light
Driveways . . . .Light
Condition . . . . Poor to Fair
Length . . . . . .52 miles

This is a great little road (well at 52 miles long I guess it really isn't "little") that connects the Monterey Peninsula with the heartland farming country of Monterey County. Sure, you can accomplish the same thing by taking Hwy. 68 from the 101, but that's just boring. If you want hairpin curves, cows in the road, trees overhanging a narrow, one lane road, and the occasional blind corner than this is the route you really want to take. I found out about it from Road & Track (hey, I didn't pay for the thing) in one of their reviews; they point out that "you won't see many cops out here because the trees do the law enforcement". I've been on roads where trees are a much more serious consideration, but it's something to keep in mind.

Heading out of Greenfield (see directions at end of this description) the fun doesn't really start until you turn off of Arroyo Seco and onto Carmel Valley Rd. itself. The pavement is in pretty rough shape here, and you will find the occasional cattle-crossing guard (real ones, not the cheap painted kind) and even a few small houses and mobile homes. There really isn't much traffic to speak of out here, but watch out for 2 sections where the road is really down to 1 lane wide; one of the sections is marked with "stop" signs but the other section is merely marked with a "narrow road" sign.

Once you get past the "residential" section at the eastern end, the centerline disappears and, save for a few random appearances, you won't see it again until reaching the town of Carmel Valley many miles to the west. This section also finds you winding your way up a pretty good climb in elevation, but eventually levels out and continues a slow drop all the way to the coast. After the climb you will find mile after mile of a small, winding country road that works its way through some very picturesque landscape. There are ranches here and there, but nothing that you could call development. The last time I drove this road was from east to west on a Friday afternoon, and while there wasn't any other traffic headed west there were quite a few cars headed in the other direction. Considering that this is a narrow road with no dividing line, this is something to pay attention to.

Eventually the rolling fields and narrow, tree-lined creeks will give way to civilization. Just east of Carmel Valley at the western end there are several more sections where the road is down to 1 lane and marked with "narrow road" signs. After that the speed limit drops several times and cross traffic and pedestrians become a consideration. Once you reach Hwy. 1 - PCH you can head south on that amazing road or head north into Carmel, Monterey, or farther on to Santa Cruz and San Francisco. Not exactly a bad choice to have to make.

To find from the eastern end off the 101: Heading north out of King City exit Central Ave. (3 miles north of G14 - Nacimiento Rd.). Head north until Central ends at Elm and turn left (west). Heading south exit El Camino Real, turn right at the end of the ramp, and then turn left (east) on Elm Ave. Elm Ave. will run straight for a while but then drop down into a valley and cross a single lane bridge with 90 degree corners at either end; obviously use caution here. Elm will end at Arroyo Seco Rd. where you will again turn left. After just over 6.5 miles you will come to another intersection, turn right onto Carmel Valley road; from here to the coast it's pretty obvious which way to go. These first few roads are also used for farm access, so watch out for tractors and other slow-moving machinery.

- Back to Region

Cyan: G16 - Carmel Valley Rd.
Red: Pacific Coast Highway
Purple: Nacimiento / Interlake / Jolon
Green: Hwy. 58 - Carissa Hwy.

Corners, corners, corners.
Cyan: G16 - Carmel Valley Rd.
Blue: Arroyo Seco Rd.
Orange: Elm Ave.
Green: Central Ave.
Purple: Nacimiento / Interlake / Jolon

Development at the western end.
Not exactly a 4-lane interstate.