Patriarch Ridge | Carmel Valley

In April 2020, Big Sur Land Trust acquired and conserved 83.5 acres of old growth mixed evergreen woodland, chaparral and grassland habitat adjacent to the Land Trust’s Mitteldorf Preserve in Carmel Valley. Al and Anne Washburn of Monterey sold the stunning, undeveloped property located at the top of Patriarch Ridge to Big Sur Land Trust. The Washburns purchased the land in the early 1970s and recently worked with the Land Trust to protect this magnificent and biologically diverse open space. The roadway along Patriarch Ridge winds across the ridgetop portion of the property and connects Big Sur Land Trust’s Mitteldorf Preserve with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Joshua Creek Ecological Reserve.

Patriarch Ridge is a very important part of the Esselen Tribe’s sacred lands and includes the upper watershed divide between Williams Canyon and the Garzas Creek drainage. It has been used for countless generations of Esselen and Rumsen people for ceremonies and as a travel route and corridor for bringing in important food sources from the coast on the northern end of Big Sur at the villages of Sarhentaruc and Ixchenta. Tribal members would travel from the coast to the inland villages of Echilat and Soccoranda in Carmel Valley and would use the ridge as a resting spot where they would stay overnight. They also used it for gathering medicinal plants and vision quests. You can still find traces of the campsites and grinding rocks used for making dinner. The Esselen name for Patriarch Ridge was ‘Tebitylat’ – meaning ‘resting spot’.”

The property will provide an extension beyond an existing trail through Mitteldorf Preserve. Hikers will definitely need a resting spot after gaining approximately 1800 vertical feet over a very strenuous 5.75-mile one-way trip from the main parking lot. The flat .4-mile section of trail added along the ridge goes through a majestic stand of old growth madrone and canyon live oak trees, many of which survived the 2016 Soberanes Fire. The dense canopy of these stately trees creates an open, park-like understory, with adjacent woodlands, grassy slopes and chaparral-covered hillslopes that drop steeply into shaded redwood canyons. Springtime wildflowers include wood rein-orchids in shaded habitats, yellow and magenta harlequin lupine, sky lupine and owl’s clover scattered across hillside meadows. Hardy hikers should plan a full day to enjoy this unique experience and can sign up for solo hikes here.