Mark and I have started this tradition where we go hiking every January 1st. This year we were blessed with decent weather and decided to hop into the car and head down to Big Sur, a place we’d heard so much about but had not yet gotten the chance to visit.
On this trip we visited two parks, but this post will mostly cover Julia Burns Pfeiffer State Park. It is a park farther south of Monterey, CA and lies along the Pacific Coast Highway One where there are towering redwoods, rushing creeks, and streaming waterfalls.
The best part about driving down to Big Sur is that the journey is scenic, with winding roads that run right along the cliffside where you have open views of the coast. There are plenty of turnouts and vista points for you to stop and soak in the views.
There are bridges that you’ll be driving across, but the Bixby Creek Bridge is one of the more well known ones. If you’re going in the afternoon, you’ll certainly run into photographers. We were fortunate enough to miss the flocks of people.
Drive across the Bixby Bridge and several miles later you will see the Julia Burns Pfeiffer State Park on your left. If you are visiting this park, a suggestion would be to get started as early as possible since it is fairly famous and gets jam packed with visitors. There are quite a few trails to choose from, but all of them are highly popular.
One of the shorter and easier trails is the waterfall trail. This trail leads to the infamous McWay Falls. It is about .64 miles round trip and is more of a leisurely walk than a hike.
The infamous McWay Falls. Hoards of photographers and tourists drive to Big Sur in order to capture a photo of this fall, and now I understand why. Although the beach is closed to public access, the fall itself is absolutely breathtaking, especially with the varying shades of blue seawater that it flows into.
Every angle of the McWay Falls was slightly different. A shift in lighting and the aquamarine colors of the seawater would alter to either a brighter more vibrant color or a deeper gray blue.
Honorary food shot as a tribute to my Utah series. (No, we didn’t boil broccoli. It came all dried up and delicious in a Trader Joe’s pack. Yum!)
Ewoldsen Falls Loop
This trail is much more strenuous in comparison to the McWay falls and took us about 2 hours to complete. A major portion of the hike is elevated, but you get to hike alongside a flowing creek or ‘falls’ (not entirely sure what to call it) for the majority of the trail.
You’re more inland for this trail and will be hiking through redwood trees that will remind you of how small you are. The cushiony dirt trails are also ideal for the longer distance hike and running downhill on the trails.
It’s a straightforward loop once you get onto the trail head. (Some creek crossings may be required.)
Midway through the loop you’ll reach a section where you’ll have sweeping views of the coast and the highway. You’ll be looping back towards the parking lot with the vast ocean behind you.
We finished the hike a little bit before 1 in the afternoon and rushed out of the park just as masses of people began to drive in. Tip to avoiding the crowds: Go EARLY. We passed several groups of people on the trail, but for the most part we were alone.
Adios Julia Burns!
During this time of year, following rainfall, everything was breathtaking. Vibrant green leaves, dark soil, and an ample amount of water flowing from the waterfalls made me feel as if I were hiking through a scene of Lord of the Rings. It was a reminder of days trekking through Oregon, and made me forget that California is still very much in a drought.
Out of many parks that I’ve visited, this one might be one of my favorites. There is so much scenery that it’s hard to get bored, tired, or ‘numb’ to it on the trail. I didn’t even know that you could see the ocean, waterfalls, redwood trees, and creeks all in one trail! I highly recommend you visit it, especially if you’re a California dweller.