When people refer to Big Sur they are not only referring to the town of Big Sur, but also the area South of Monterey and North of Hearst Castle. This coastal area of Central California is one of the most beautiful & scenic drives in the world with sheer cliffs, aqua water, redwood canyons, and unique sites. We compared it to Italy’s Amalfi Coast but a little more rugged.
For my 32nd Birthday Mike and I decided to venture on a micro - adventure to Big Sur for a weekend of camping and exploring. Prior to this trip, we only touched the tip of the Big Sur iceberg. We drove down to LA 3 years ago stopping at pretty much all the turn outs oohing and aahing. At least this time around we could skip most of the turn outs and head to the real gems.
Once we were sure we secured a campsite at Kirkcreek Campground, the only coastal first come, first serve campground in Big Sur - we headed out to Sand Dollar Beach, one of the suggestions we received for our trip. We made some sandwiches and took some time to stretch our legs and really enjoy the warm sunshine and the surfers.
After soaking in some vitamin D - we headed up one of the backcountry roads I had read about and it was nothing less than spectacular with it’s fear inducing narrow curves ,sheer cliff drop offs and amazing views of Highway 1 and the Sea.
Nacimento road goes about 16 miles up through this canyon, but we only made it 6 miles before heading back because we wanted to head out on a hike.
Right across from the Kirkcreek Campground is this trail head sign. Our destination Vicente Flat.
The hike takes you up this moderately steep trail, along the coast and through beautiful dense redwood groves.
This is a great hike to do at the end of the day or early afternoon if you want to earn your sunset. We didn’t make it all the way to Vicente Flat because it was going to be dark when we hiked down, but that’s ok because we got some exercise and got to take in these magical views.
Chicken & Apple Sausage
Started the day off at Sunrise to catch McWay Falls before the crowds.
Capturing McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
McWay Falls is definitely worth all the hype - it’s truly a beautiful spot with some interesting history. The beach was actually formed in 1983 after a landslide down the coast, and the ocean deposited the displaced sand in this cove.
Because it was so early we had some time to check out the other attractions at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The Canyon Trail and the Ewoldsen Trail both meander through an amazing canyon with redwood trees and a rushing creek. A pretty cool juxtaposition of scenery from the Ocean and McWay Falls. One moment your in a dense dark forest, the next your staring at the blue of the sea.
On the way to brunch we stopped at one of the turn outs where a ranger was setting up for some whale watching. The California Grey Whale is currently migrating from Alaska to Baja to mate. Apparently it was a perfect day to see some whales because of how glassy the ocean was …
and … low and behold we spotted our first California Grey Whales!
Brunch at the Big Sur Bakery where we caught up on some phone time. It’s really great not having service and reconnecting with nature and yourself, but in this day & age where the world does not stop just because you decide to go off the grid - it’s nice to get some cell time in so you can relax again and put out any fire storms if need be - a plus is that if there is an email you need to send you can do it from your phone. at brunch. in Big Sur.
Get the Breakfast Pizza - you will not be disappointed!
After popping into the information station to grab some maps for next time - we were told that Pfeiffer Beach had just opened. Apparently it had been closed for a long time because of the storms we had in CA a couple months ago. Lucky Us!
2 Miles down the road you come to this amazing purple sand beach. We spent some time walking around and enjoying the sand and rock formations. You can definitely see a difference between this beach and Sand Dollar Beach, one of the other public beaches in Big Sur.
Next Up was Andrew Molera State Park where we decided to get our hike on with the 8-Mile Loop Trail.
This is the 3rd beach you can access in Big Sur - the rest are all private property.
Amazing hike along the bluffs and up a steep ridge through some interesting vegetation with spectacular views!
Sunsets in Big Sur are Spectacular.
There is so much to experience and see in Big Sur - it’s not about hitting all the “attractions” but really getting deep in it an appreciating the grand beauty of this rugged coast line. We only spent a day and a half there - but it sure felt a lot longer with the amount of exploring we did. I will definitely be back sooner than later. Hoping it doesn’t take another 3 years to make the journey South from San Francisco
What a great way to kick of year 32. Let the adventure continue!
Camp: Kirkcreek Campground
Eat: Big Sur Bakery
Visit: Sand Dollar Beach, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, Andrew Molera State Park
Hike: Canyon Trail, Ewoldson Trail, Molera 8-Mile Loop
For Next Time:
10 Mile Hike Ito Sykes Hot Springs
Point Lobos Reserve
Post Ranch Inn
Limekiln State Park
Esalen - public bathing hours, from 1am to 3am nightly. Budget an hour to get there from the campsite. You have to book day-of, with the phone line opening at 8am and the available spaces typically gone by 8:30. Apparently it’s the most transcendental $25 you’ll ever spend.
Deetjuns - its like hobbitville! Get their Eggs Benedict
Treebones Sushi Bar
Nepenthe - Great Views for Cocktails
Pfeiffer Falls / Valley View Trails
Mill Creek Trail
Headlands Trail at Andrew Molera
Palo Colorado Road