The Rip Van Winkle Open Space Trails are interconnected, looped paths of loose dirt, leaves and pine needles that criss-cross throughout the area and provide endless opportunities for human walking, and canine romping. The scenery is woodsy, and the trails are covered with a canopy of dense trees, including Monterey Cypress, Monterey Pine and coast live oak. The atmosphere is similar to wilderness, although it is located within a suburban, populated area. Once you and your pup leave the parking area and start on one of the 3 trails leading away from it, you'll think you've gone much further to get away.
Perched atop a terrace of stable coastal dunes, the resulting hilly terrain offers great exercise for human and doggo alike, and the ever-changing viewpoint makes it as interesting as a long walk in much larger woods. Huge felled tree trunks bar the path, requiring you to duck under or climb over, and rock formations make for great games of King of the Mountain.
The park's proximity to Asimolar and Pebble Beaches, along with the well-known 17 Mile Drive, adds more challenge for those who may get bored with the Rip Van Winkle's confines, and there are trails that lead you to these other attractions. Bridges over streams and wet crossings add spice to your walk and some refreshing wetness for Fido. Waste bags are conveniently provided at the parking area, so be sure to grab some before you start your adventure, and plan to carry the full ones out with you for safe disposal.
Plenty of picnic areas in shady groves await you and your buddy for a relaxing snack or meal, and if you sit quietly, you'll notice deer, squirrels and the chirps of birds in the trees above. Open year-round, the largely undeveloped park is an ideal spot for any length walk at any time of day - or night!
While Rip Van Winkle is a park meant for free-range dog-play, be aware that the 22 acres are not fenced, so it's important to keep your pup in sight and practice his recall skills. Also there are obstacles like downed trees on some of the paths and steep drop-offs on others, as well as lots of poison oak. It's wise to carry Fido's leash with you and be prepared to use it for restraint should danger loom for your pup.