Palo Carona Regional Park covers an amazing 4,500 acres of beautiful country and rugged terrain with a interesting mix of ecosystems and wildlife species. The park performs an important role in protecting the plants and wild animals that thrive on this land as it provides a critical link in a 70 mile long wild land corridor extending from the Carmel River to Hearst Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, connecting 9 previously protected conservation properties including Garrapata State Park, Point Lobos State Reserve, the Ventana Wilderness, and more. Palo Carona Regional Park is split into three units, the 600 acre Front Ranch unit, the 3,800 acre Back Country unit, and the more recently acquired 185 acre Rancho Cañada unit which was the site of the former Rancho Cañada Golf Course.
All of the park's trails are hiking only, with the exception of the South Bank Trail, a 1.5 mile groomed trail that follows the south bank of the Carmel River and is also open to biking and accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. The best access point for the park is through the Rancho Cañada unit along Carmel Valley Road, which offers abundant off street parking. The other two access points require permits to park, which can be obtained on the park's website, due to limited parking along Highway 1 or the South Bank Trail entrance. Currently the Back Country unit is not accessible to the public while a General Development Plan is finalized.
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