Architecture, Carmel Beach, Carmel Point, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Clint Eastwood,, Scenic Bluff Pathway, Scenic Loop Walking Tour, Scenic Road, Self Guided, Self Guided Walk

Carmel-by-the-Sea Scenic Loop Walking Tour – Part I – Scenic Bluff Pathway Along Carmel Beach

Scenic Loop Walking Tour – Part I 

Scenic Bluff Pathway Along Carmel Beach
1 mile 

Those who visit our village may only have a few hours to spend in Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Some enjoy shopping, some love to eat, others enjoy a walk.  The Scenic Loop Walking Tour is a series of two blog posts.  They are a self-guided walking tour of what I believe feature three miles of natures most impressive beauty.  If time does not permit, this first part can be walked as 1 1/2 miles round trip – Just turn around at the new restrooms on Santa Lucia and Scenic where this blog ends.

So that you are not constrained by the two hour parking limit in town,  I suggest you park in the parking lot at the end of Ocean Avenue by Carmel Beach.  There is no time limit here on parking during the day.  

There are three public restrooms along this walking tour. One at the beginning, base of Ocean Avenue, at the end of Part 1 at Santa Lucia and Scenic, and next to the parking lot at Carmel River Beach.   

This walk is fairly level but weather conditions can be windy and cold.  A windbreaker or sweater is recommended, dark glasses, camera, and binoculars are useful.

Follow along on this google map which marks highlights of the Scenic Loop Walking Tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  

Start this walk at the Carmel North Dunes Habitat Restoration Site (northwest corner of Ocean and San Antonio* next to the Carmel Beach parking lot) under one of Carmel’s heritage trees, a Blue Gum Eucalyptus. 

This tree, the largest in the Village, (the trunk measures over 22 feet around) just underwent a haircut in readiness for (hopefully) the impending El Nino.  This Eucalyptus is thought to have been planted in the 1850’s. 

Before we continue on to Carmel Beach take a moment to look beyond the ropes at the Habitat Restoration project. The Carmel-by-the-Sea Garden Club began this project in 2009 to “correct a century of  human disturbance which had greatly affected the natural state of the dunes.”

The non-native and invasive ice plant was removed.  Though the battle continues – as ice plant pushes through the native Pacific Dune Grass shown below.

With the ice plant gone (for the most part) the natural dune plants have begun to reappear.  For the majority of the year I have to say the natural dune plants are not much to look at. Still I understand and embrace the concept – at least in small doses.  

At times during the spring, summer, and fall we now see glimpses of native plants, delicate Pink, 

and Yellow Sand Verbena, 

Beach Evening Primrose,

and the Dune Sagewort. 

Continue your walk down Ocean Avenue toward the ocean. After the restrooms, follow the boardwalk past the Ghost Tree (a dead Monterey Cypress planted early in the 1900’s)

to the Carmel Beach Overlook.  

Take in the unobstructed view of Pebble Beach to the north (shown below) and south to Point Lobos.

Walk, back tracking to the parking lot and cross the street following the brick path to the south side of Ocean Avenue.

Here you will find a unique rusted steel sculpture attached to the fence.

This is actually the second sculpture at this location, the first one designed by Mark Periman was damaged over the years and replaced in 2005 with this one by artist Michael Largent.
For fellow Geocachers, (I know you are out there) this is the site of one of our numerous caches in town, called The End of Ocean Avenue

Continue one block back toward town to Scenic Drive.  On the southeast corner is a large Spanish style home.  

In 1937 this two story home was built for the President of Zellerbach Paper Company, Harold Lionel Zellerbach. Harold’s grandfather, Anthony Zellerbach founded the paper company in 1868. 

 Continue south along Scenic Drive to Eighth Avenue.  

It is here you will start the walk along the Scenic Bluff Pathway which parallels Scenic Road on the bluffs above Carmel Beach.

Just in case you are interested, here is a little background on how the Scenic Bluff Pathway came to be.  

In March of 1983 a disastrous storm (part of the 1982-83 very strong El Nino weather system) thundered through Monterey County. Almost overnight the beach slopes along Carmel Beach became beach cliffs.  Sixteen large cypress trees fell and five beach stairways were damaged.  Four of which were reduced to rubble. 

In 1983, Mayor Charlotte Townsend formed the Beach Task Force to clean up the damage.  Phase I completed in 1985, consisted of beach clean-up, installation of long-term stabilization of the bluffs, and a new storm drain system.  The cost, $816,283.  

In January 1988, under Mayor Clint Eastwood, City Council approved the work for Phase II which would include a decomposed granite bluff-top walkway beginning at Eighth Avenue and ending at Santa Lucia, reconstruction of five stairways, addition of handicapped ramps, benches, landscaping and irrigation.  The cost, $825,000.  

Mayor Jean Grace, who had worked on the Beach Task Force before becoming mayor, cut the ribbon for the walkway in June 1988.  It had taken five years but Scenic Bluff Walkway was finally open. This pathway, marked by the blue and silver ocean sign, is a small section of the 1,200 mile California Coastal Trail from Oregon to Mexico. 

While  you enjoy the beauty of this first half mile, here are a few things to keep an eye out for.

If you are able to take your eyes off the breathtaking beauty of Carmel Beach, the houses that line Scenic are quite stunning themselves. We have many styles, no tract housing here, and some have had famous residents. 

The three story Spanish Eclectic style home, with the massive brick chimney named Anything Goes**, was the home of Richard Cox.
Richard was born in Carmel in 1930, his father Elmer was a WWI veteran, his mother the silent film actress Ruth Powell. Richard majored in Drama at Stanford and took the stage name Dick Sargent. For those of my generation we remember Richard as Darrin Stephens from the TV show Bewitched.  
Just after the Ninth Avenue pass-through to San Antonio Avenue is Las Ondas, a three story house with tile roof. Built in 1933, this was the home of former Carmel mayor, Clint Eastwood during the 1980’s and 90’s.  The name Las Ondas is visible on the gate on San Antonio Street which you will pass on Part 2 of the Scenic Loop Walking Tour.
In the next block (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues) there is a proliferation of mid-century modern homes.  This style has grown on me over the years.  Ad Tearman a 1,950 square foot Japanese-style two-story wood home was featured in the January 2011 Architectural Digest.  Here is a slide show of the interior.      
Between Twelfth and Thirteenth look for the white stucco cottage with tile roof named Periwinkle and Sea Urchin. They were originally built in 1915 as two fisherman’s huts. Between 1930 and 1981, five different additions and renovations were made to the dwellings.  My mother told me stories of visiting them in the 1930’s. I took the picture below in the 1990’s when the homes were still divided as two separate units. 
In 2000 Periwinkle and Sea Urchin were united as one by a hall. You can see this in the picture below. 
At Thirteenth Avenue Carmel stone stairs lead to Cooke’s Cove. 

Named after the MacGowan – Cooke sisters who lived in the large Tudor style residence two blocks east of the cove on Thirteenth.

Alice MacGowan and Grace MacGowan Cooke came to Carmel in 1908, prior to that they lived in Helicon Hall, in Englewood, New Jersey.  Helicon Hall was a social experiment in socialist living designed by Upton Sinclair which burnt down five months after its inception.

After the failed experiment, Sinclair Lewis came to Carmel, and the MacGowan sisters followed.  They purchased the large home, which was built in 1905, on the bluff above the cove.  At the time, it was the only house in the area. In Part 2 of this walking tour we will have a chance to see their house. But for now we continue south on the Scenic Bluff Walkway to Santa Lucia and Carmel’s newest public restroom.

As with everything in Carmel, things take time.  Our new restrooms began life in 1991 as a suggestion by the 2016 Centennial Committee. Twenty-three years after the suggestion, in December of 2014 they opened to the public.

Built to blend in with the architecture and geography of Scenic Road they are hardly visible from the beach level or Street level. Cost to the village $595,000.

This is where we leave off Part 1 of the Scenic Loop Walking Tour. Part 2 will loop around Carmel Point to Carmel River Beach and back to the Carmel Beach parking lot via San Antonio Avenue.


* Carmel-by-the-Sea does not have addresses we have coordinates.
** Many houses in Carmel-by-the-Sea are referred to by their name.

All photography by L. A. Momboisse unless listed below:
Black and white photo of Mayor Eastwood’s swearing in, from Carmel Magazine, Spring/Summer 2012. 

Carmel Point, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Geocache,, Kate's Kache, Scenic Bluff Pathway, Scenic Loop Walking Tour, Scenic Road

Carmel-by-the-Sea Scenic Loop Walking Tour – Part 2 – Scenic Road around Carmel Point pass River Beach, to Carmelo Street and San Antonio Avenue

Scenic Loop Walking Tour – Part 2 

Scenic Road around Carmel Point
Pass River Beach, to Carmelo Street
 and San Antonio Avenue
2 miles

Part 2 of the Scenic Loop begins at the new public restroom at Scenic and Santa Lucia. This portion of the tour is 2 miles and will take us around Carmel Point, past Carmel River Beach and Wetlands, over to San Antonio Road and back to the Blue Gum Eucalyptus at the northwest Corner of Ocean and San Antonio where our walking tour began.  You may follow this walk on Google Map.

We are at the south end of Carmel Beach.  Take a moment to look back at where you have been. Straight across Carmel Bay is Pescadero Point, the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and the Pebble Beach Golf Course.  

Very shortly you will have a glimpse of the north side of a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Wright was in his 80’s when he took on this project.  It took him five years to build and it was completed in 1952. 

Periodically this home is included on the Carmel Heritage Society annual June House and Garden Tour. I have had the privilege to tour the inside on many occasions.  More pictures and history can be found at my blog post here.  

At 26085 Scenic take notice of the two story modern Pueblo style house named Cimarron. According to Carmel lore, Hollywood actor Richard Dix built a Taos style adobe on the property in 1929 and named it after his film Cimarron which was released in 1931.  


In 1937 the property was sold to Gustav Lannestock, a Swedish emigrant who made his living, building, writing and translating.

Quite the socialites, Gustav and his wife Lucille nightly hosted 5:00 p.m. cocktail hour for anyone who was walking by their home.  The casual gatherings were frequented by local authors John Steinbeck, and Robinson Jeffers.

In 1949 Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg happened to walk by. Moberg had just begun writing a novel entitled Emigrants. The Swedes became fast friends and Lannestock would end up translating the four book series of Emigrants from Swedish to English.  To complete the Hollywood full circle, Moberg’s novels would be made into two Warner Bros movies, The Emigrants and The New Land.  

Before walking on take in the view from the front of Cimarron of the crescent shaped Carmel Beach, Carmel Dunes, and Pebble Beach Golf Course.  

On the corner of Scenic and Martin you can’t miss the stone castle style house with false thatch roof. 

This home, built in 1993, looks larger than it is – at two bedrooms and two baths this house measures out
 at under 1,600 square feet.  

Across the street is the gate to the Frank Lloyd Wright house, one of only five homes built on the beach side of Scenic.  

Just past the fence and a set of mail boxes near the Frank Lloyd Wright house is a well worn path to the beach.  There are no steps so this does require climbing down and up an unstable bluff through ice plant. 

If the tide is out and you feel that you are capable of the climb it is worth it.  But use caution if climbing on the rocks and Never Turn Your Back On The Ocean

There are two rock houses right before making the curve around the rocky point ahead.  The first one with the tile roof, 26183 Scenic, was built in 2003.  This two bedroom, two bathroom sold  for a cool $11,950,000 in 2004. 

The second one called Pack’s Point of View, (that must be Pack looking over the fence below) was built in 2001. 

This five bedroom house sold in 2003 for $7,100,000.  An old Coldwell Banker listing showed this interior picture below. 
Time to take a look back at where you have been. Those are the Ocean Avenue Dunes to the farthest left of the picture below. We were there about 45 minutes ago when we took in the Carmel Beach Overlook!

A few yards ahead on our walk is a bend in Scenic Road.  At the bend is a stone wall with stairs that lead down to the Bay and Scenic Station for Carmel Area Wastewater District. 

There is some Carmel lore regarding a tunnel that once went from this wall to the basement of the Edward Kuster house on Ocean View Avenue in the 1920’s.  If you are standing by the wall just turn around and look up.  You can’t miss the Kuster Castle.

Edward Kuster (founder of the Golden Bough Theater in 1924) was the first husband of Una Jeffers. They divorced in 1913. Both remarried, (Una to Robinson Jeffers) but remained friends.  Such good friends that in 1920 Edward would built his house in Carmel just down the street from Una’s Tor House.  

The next half mile of coast to the Carmel Point Curve is rocky and wild.  There are many great areas for tide-pooling along this part of the walk.  But do so with great caution!!

As you round the point you can’t miss this European style 6,900 square foot home.  It happens to be the dream home of my very best friend.  Every time we walk by she imagines herself living in it. I have put her on notice to start saving her lunch money as it just came on the market for $13,750,000.  

As Scenic Road’s rocky coast line continues look off to the right at 
the rugged coast of Point Lobos State Reserve.  
Which is an adventure for another day. 

That set of rocks a few hundred yards from land is Carmel Point’s version of the 17 Mile Drive Bird Rock. With binoculars you can usually find a few Brandt’s Cormorant’s and Brown Pelican’s hanging out.   

Before going any further take a look back at where you have been.  In the distance is Pescadero Point just north of Pebble Beach.  

A bit further down Scenic, just before arriving at the intersection of Stewart Way look to your left to see Tor House and Hawk Tower, built in 1919 for Robinson and Una Jeffers. 

Once a year, the first Saturday in May, the Tor House Foundation holds their annual Garden Party.  This is the only time when photography is allowed on the property.  

Robinson Jeffers built Tor House and Hawk Tower with stones from the beach directly below the property.  Look to you right to see this beach.  This cove is very popular for scuba divers. 

Just above the cove is the iconic Butterfly House, built in 1952 by Frank Wynkoop. This 2,800 square foot house last sold in 2013 for $16,500,000. It is currently undergoing a major renovation.   

 In less than a tenth of a mile we arrive at the
 Carmel Point Curve.

It is hard to believe that at one time, Scenic Road was two way.  In 1965, my brother Dana learned to drive our station wagon on this road.  He took the curve wide hugging the edge every time just to scare my mom and I.  

Just around the curve, through the winter bloom of the Candelabra Plant, (aloe arborescens) you will get your first view of Carmel River Beach.  In one more week those spikes will pop bright red!!!

In 1602 when three Carmelite Friers were exploring this area with Viszcaino Expedition, they named this area El Rio Carmelo.  As it reminded them of their original Carmelilte Monestary at the foot of Mount Carmel in Palestine. It is from the name of this river that Carmel-by-the-Sea gets her name

Carmel River Beach has an extremely dangerous undertow. If you walk this beach stay out of the water.

When I was a young girl, my brother and I would bring our green plastic row boat down to the river to play.  When we left for the day, my mom would say, “stay away from the ocean side the tow will kill you.”  Somehow my brother and I listened to that wisdom and set our boat off on the river side for hours of adventures in the tule reeds. 

The Scenic Drive we have followed for the last two miles ends at the entrance to Carmel River Beach and Wetlands.

  There is a restroom just off the parking lot.

 Now focus your attention ahead (south) down the center of the sand bar toward Carmel Meadows.  This sand bar between the ocean and Carmel River and Wetlands is an ever changing landscape.   The picture above was taken in December 2015, the picture below April 2013.

If time permits and the sandbar is passable the Hike to Portola Crespi Cross in Carmel Meadows is a great add on to this hike.  I believe the best time to make the Portola Crespi Cross Hike is during wildflower season, and I am counting on this wildflower season to be stellar. 

A few interesting shore birds at the Carmel River Wetlands entertain the amateur birder in me (happily I am easily entertained). Like the group of Snowy Plovers I accidentally scared above and the solitary Snowy Egret below. 

Visible across the wetlands just above the tule reeds, 

are the Meadowview Triplex rooms of Mission Ranch.

For my fellow Geocachers pick up Kate’s Kache before leaving Carmel River Beach.  

 When you leave Carmel River Beach
you will be walking north along Carmelo Street.

Our last mile of the Scenic Loop Walking Tour returns to the Carmel Beach Ocean Avenue Parking Lot via residential streets.

Just a few houses past the wetlands on your right is an ultra modern stone and steel home at 26362 Carmelo.   

In 2009 the owners of this property hired local architect David Martin to completely remodel of what was their simple ranch style home. The only surviving feature from the old property is the majestic mayten tree in the front yard.  I had the privilege to tour this home during the 2015 Carmel Bach Festival Cottages, Gardens & Cantatas. 

If you would like to go beyond the steel and glass door, see my blog post here and scroll to the Cooperman Home.  

A block further on the left are four quaint cottages named after Robin Hood and his friends.  Built in the 1920’s, the Lincoln Green Inn at 26362 Carmelo was the first hotel built to serve guests on Carmel Point. 

Just past the Lincoln Green Inn turn left on Fifteenth Avenue and right on South San Antonio Avenue. 

On the southeast corner of South San Antonio and Fourteenth Avenue is a tiny gray and red cottage. This cottage began life around 1910 as a studio for writer John Fleming Wilson.

In 1912 Philip Wilson Sr.(no relation) purchased the small writers studio and converted it into a club house for the nine hole golf course he built on Point Loeb (now Carmel Point). The picture below shows the Club House in 1914. 

At the onset of World War I, Philip Wilson Sr. was called to service and the golf course was abandoned.  The land was later subdivided and in 1990  a one bedroom house was built on the property – integrating the old Club House into the home as a living room.  

In 2015 the current owners (also owners of Carmel Cottage Inn which we will pass shortly on our walking tour) removed the addition and restored the Club House to its original size, even maintaining the original fireplace and interior siding. 

The Club House is now called the Golf House and now happily acts as a guest cottage for the newly built main house to its north. To see the inside of these houses see my blog post on the 2015 Carmel Heritage Society House and Garden Tour.  It is the third house reviewed in the post. 

Now back to our walk. At Santa Lucia Avenue make a right and then a quick left back on to San Antonio.

At Thirteenth and San Antonio look east up Thirteenth Street to view the MacGowan-Cooke house which I discussed in Part 1.  

Cooke’s Cove on Carmel Beach at Thirteenth is named after sisters Alice MacGowan and Grace MacGowan Cooke.  
Over the course of the next seven blocks from Thirteenth Avenue to Ocean Avenue you may either take one of the “cut through” paths (on the west side of the street) back down to Scenic and walk Scenic back to Ocean Avenue or stay on San Antonio and walk a small area of  residential Carmel known as the Golden Rectangle.

If you stay on San Antonio you are in for a treat as every home is unique. Many feature creative names such as Deamcatcher, Beach Therapy, My Rx or 

Surf’s Up. Names take the place of address numbers in the village.   
 There are small cottages, 

numerous custom builds 

in all architectural and 

whimsical styles. 

Of course we also have plenty of historical homes and inns on San Antonio.  Keep your eye out for Braemar on the east side just south of Ninth Avenue.

This Craftsman style bungalow was built around 1921 by one of Carmel’s early master builders, M. J. Murphy.  I toured this house during a Bach Festival House and Garden Tour, you may view more of the grounds at this site.  

Just after Eighth Avenue look for the Carmel Cottage Inn on the east side of San Antonio. These are five historical homes lovingly restored and graciously run as an inn by innkeeper and friend Cheryl Assemi. 
 I have toured and photographed this property numerous times. One of my absolute favorites, see this blog post for more pictures of the property inside and out.  Just scroll past Hob Nob.   

If only the ground in Carmel could talk, this property would have stories to tell.  Midway between Ocean and Seventh on the east side lived Lincoln Steffens, described by Carmel author Alissandra Dramov, as a “muckraking journalist, author, Socialist, and political activist.” (1)

Born in 1866, Lincoln Steffens studied at Berkeley, served as a reporter for the Evening Post in New York in 1892, and was editor of McClure’s Magazine in 1901.

In 1927 Steffens purchased the six year old house that sat on the property 4 southeast of Ocean. It became known as Getaway, and had many famous visitors: Robinson Jeffers, Gertrude Stein, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, and John Steinbeck among others.        

In 1967 the Sigma Delta Chi Professional Journalistic Society honored the site of Steffens home with the stone plaque pictured above.  In 1989 the property was sold for $975,000 and the new owners completed a major remodel, addition and reconstruction to the original home two years later.

  The current residence, now called Meremar, hardly resembles the Steffens home of the 1920’s and 30’s. 

At the next corner notice the French country style

 Ocean’s End

and you are back to the Blue Gum Eucalyptus where our Scenic Loop Walking Tour began. 

Until our next Adventure of a Home Town Tourist, keep on exploring!

All pictures by L. A. Momboisse except those listed below: 

Black and white photo of Cimarron – Carmel Magazine, Summer/Fall 2013, page 87.

Black and white photo of the Golf House as the Club House in 1914 – Courtesy of Harrison Memorial History Library. 

(1) Dramov, Alissandra. Carmel-by-the-Sea, The Early Years (1903-1913). Author House, 2012. p.149.