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17-Mile Drive

This privately owned scenic drive runs along the edge of the Monterey Peninsula, passing through the gated community of Pebble Beach. Motorists must pay a fee at one of five entry points. As the road skirts the peninsula’s western edge, you'll pass such frequently photographed landmarks as Seal and Bird Rocks, Fanshell Beach, Point Joe, and the Lone...
This privately owned scenic drive runs along the edge of the Monterey Peninsula, passing through the gated community of Pebble Beach. Motorists must pay a fee at one of five entry points. As the road skirts the peninsula’s western edge, you'll pass such frequently photographed landmarks as Seal and Bird Rocks, Fanshell Beach, Point Joe, and the Lone Cypress. Further inland are several renowned golf courses and Del Monte Forest. The drive lives up to its scenic billing, and you are likely to spot California sea otters and harbor seals, but some argue that the scenery less than a mile north at Asilomar State Beach is just as spectacular, and free.

Maps are available at all five entrances. Entry is free to pedestrians and bicyclists, but bicycles are not allowed on weekends. Accessible paths run between the road and the ocean along a few sections of shoreline, and bike lanes can be used quite safely by wheelchair riders because traffic is slow.

Bird Rock is likely the best place to stop and get out of your car, as other pullouts don’t offer accessible parking. It and neighboring Seal Rock are haul-out grounds for harbor seals and California sea lions. On the nearshore rocks, Brandt’s cormorants nest in spring and brown pelicans roost in summer. None of the spotting scopes by the parking area are at wheelchair height. Harbor seal pupping season is April 1 to June 1, but you may not be able to see the pups: screens are erected along the road south from Seal Rock to protect them.

Trail/Pathway Details

Bird Rock

Trailhead: North from Bird Rock viewing area

Length: Under one mile total

Typical Width: 30 in. to 4 ft.

Typical Grade: Gentle

Terrain: Firm

Obstacles: Deep sand on the pedestrian trail is problematic after the first .2 miles. The bicycle trail is quite steep from Spanish Bay to the Pacific Grove gate; from Bird Rock south to the Carmel gate it is narrow and winding, and not advisable for wheelchairs.

Description

Heading north from Bird Rock, along the ocean's edge, with close-up views of surf on rocks and sand, the trail is accessible for .2 miles. Some wheelchair riders may be able to navigate an additional .2 miles with assistance, but eventually sand prevents further travel. To continue north, motorized wheelchair users can switch to a bike trail that runs between 17-Mile Drive and the ocean, from the southern Carmel entrance north to Pacific Grove. The grade is steep on the first mile from the gate to Spanish Bay and not recommended for manual wheelchair users. During our mid-week visit traffic was light and slow, and the road along the low bluffs is wide and straight, so it was quite pleasant. Traffic is likely to be much heavier on weekends. Handcrafted benches made of lumber set between and embedded in chunks of rock are provided at frequent intervals. 

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

At Bird Rock and Pebble Beach Lodge (has a moderate slope)

Accessible Restroom: Yes

The only accessible public restrooms we found along 17-Mile Drive are at Bird Rock.

Reviewed by Ann Sieck, April 15, 2008

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  • bicycling
  • picnic

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: Pebble Beach Company
Nearest City: Carmel
Phone: (831) 647-7500
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Fees: Entrance
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: Monterey-Salinas Transit
Useful Links:  17-Mile Drive Interactive Map

Did You Know?

Some of the Monterey cypress trees in Monterey County are 2,000 years old.

The most visited attraction along 17-Mile Drive is the Lone Cypress. To keep it standing, it is attached to cables anchored in nearby rocks.


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