Situated on the Central Coast of California, Big Sur is a mostly secluded region with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Lucia Mountains. Boasting a diverse terrain–which includes forested areas, a mountain range, and rugged coastline–the largely undeveloped regions natural beauty is well-preserved, attracting visitors from all over the world. Accordingly, Big Sur is an ideal destination for hiking due to the breathtaking scenery. Hikers of all skill levels will enjoy trekking on the gorgeous, Californian trails during the day, and relaxing at a cozy Big Sur vacation rental in the evening. Check out the top, family-friendly hiking paths at Big Sur.
1. Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View Trails
Spanning two miles, the relatively easy Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View Trails are often recommended to beginners who visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. A few parts of the trail may be rocky, so it is advised to exercise some caution when encountering those sections. Giant redwood trees tower over the paths, providing ample shade. Hikers should eventually come across a rugged, picturesque waterfall.
2. Partington Cove Trail
The one-mile Partington Cove Trail is considered only moderately challenging due to the path being somewhat steep. The elevation advances 280 feet on the trail. With a route that involves hiking through a canyon lined with trees, as well as a 60-foot tunnel, this pathway is perfect for those seeking an adventure. Tucked away at the end of the tunnel is Partington Cove, an isolated cove with beautiful blue water.
3. McWay Waterfall Trail
One of the shortest yet attractive paths in Big Sur, McWay Waterfall Trail stretches a little more than half of a mile long. The wide and flat path with minimal gain in elevation makes this trail very easy. Hikers can take in a sweeping view of the coast while trekking on McWay Waterfall Trail. True to its name, the route also leads to an overlook allowing visitors to admire impressive waterfalls.
4. Limekiln Trails
For hikers who prefer paths with lots of shady areas along the way, look no further than Limekiln Trails. Majestic redwoods tower over the trails, and several streams are scattered throughout the approximately three-mile route. Offering a fairly flat path with low elevation gain, Limekiln Trails are generally easy to navigate but can be a bit tricky when crossing creeks.
5. Pacific Valley Bluff Trail
In one word, the Pacific Valley Bluff Trail can be described as idyllic. Dont forget to bring a camera along for this easy hike. Falling under just a mile, this short and easy coastal path crosses through an expansive field and leads to rugged cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. During the spring, the grassy area is filled with blossoming wildflowers, which makes it a lovely location for a family photo.
6. Soda Springs Trail
Around one mile in length, the Soda Springs Trail features oak forests, wide coastal views, and waterfalls. Although there are no redwoods on this modest path, the creek and canyon on the route lend an irresistible charm to the area. It is recommended that hikers are cautious of dense, overgrown bushes of poison oak. Since the Soda Springs Trail opens into Buckeye Trail, visitors who desire a more robust trek can continue onto the additional path.
7. Jade Cove Trail
Looping around on a bluff, this mostly flat, mile-and-a-half-long trail boasts panoramic views of the coast and rugged coves. While this path itself is relatively short, there is a rather steep route extending from the main trail leading down toward the water. The trails namesake rock is known to be buried at points throughout the coast, but visitors must follow local regulations regarding collecting jade.
8. Salmon Creek Trail
Hikers craving more of a workout than a simple, casual stroll should try Salmon Creek Trail. Rated as moderately challenging, this path spans almost seven miles in total. However, visitors need not hike the entire distance to appreciate marvelous sights. About two miles in is the Spruce campsite. Accordingly, about three and a half miles from the trailhead eventually leads to the Estrella camp. Take a break at either of these camps and take in the gorgeousness of the tranquil forest, canyon, green valleys, and rock formations.
9. Ragged Point Fire Road Trail
In a similar vein as Salmon Creek Trail, Ragged Point Fire Road Trail offers hikers a workout since it is primarily an uphill journey. Nestled at the southernmost tip of the Las Padres National Forest, this well-maintained road is considered just moderate in terms of difficulty, and the payoff at the end is entirely worth it. At the top is a wonderful view of green, rolling hills and the Pacific Ocean.
10. Sand Dollar Beach Trail
If incredible groves of redwoods, creeks, and grassy fields aren’t appealing enough, head down the Sand Dollar Beach Trail to relish in the beauty of a sandy, crescent-shaped beach. Just under a mile, this easy path guides visitors to a beach situated below amazing cliffs. Furthermore, the beach is a popular destination for rock collectors since jade has been found here in the past.