Heading into Big Sur is like entering a magical wonderland. There is something about being surrounded by gorgeous redwood trees, steps away from a stunning beach, and lush mountains in the distance that you can see while you explore nature.
Big Sur is known to have many rivers, streams, and creeks, and due to the elevation change, that means waterfalls. And the waterfalls in Big Sur are simply stunning!
Everyone loves viewing a waterfall; who knows why? This natural phenomenon brings crowds into nature to snap photos and enjoy the water rolling off the cliffside.
Always remember to double-check dates, opening times, and weather conditions before traveling.
If you’re a lover of waterfalls, you’re in luck since Big Sur has excellent hiking trails that will lead you those these beauties.
Big Sur Waterfalls: which Ones to Visit
NOTE: Before heading into any state park mentioned below, head to their website to ensure the park is open and the trails are accessible.
- Address: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park,
This will probably be the easiest waterfall at Big Sur to get to. The 60-foot waterfall sits along a valley trail and is nestled between trees. The trail name is Pfeiffer Falls, and all you need to do is follow signs to the trailhead.
You’ll pass a few cabins and cross a road before coming to an information panel. From there,you must walk over a wooden footbridge and continue right in the fork to the waterfall.
The hike is only around 2-miles total and has barely any elevation gain.
Salmon Creek Falls
- Address: Los Padres National Forest
The Salmon Creek Falls sits in the Los Padres National Forest, where you can find a gorgeous 120-foot waterfall with twin streams.
To follow this Big Sur waterfall hike, head out on the Salmon Creek Trail to access the waterfall, which is less than a mile round trip. When you get to a fork in the trail, head left and walk through the boulders heading towards the sound of water.
Do note– there will be some obstructions in viewing this waterfall unless you’re a little more adventurous. Those who like a challenge climb up on a rope attached to a boulder and walk across the rock to get a closer look.
Limekiln Falls, an Inspiring Big Sur Waterfall Hike
Address: Limekiln State Park
If you’re in Big Sur during the winter or early spring, the Limekiln Falls are perfect for hiking. This 100-foot waterfall is ideal for viewing after the rainy season and isn’t too hard to hike to. When you enter the state park, you’ll want to head away from the ocean and locate a kiosk and bridge, which is the start of your trail.
Take the Limekiln Trail to the Falls Trail, where you will find the waterfall at the end. Be prepared to get a little wet since the final part of the trail makes you cross the Limekiln Creek without a bridge.
The trail is a total of 1.6 miles and not too hard to hike.
Address: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
The McWay Falls is probably the most popular waterfall in Big Sur. It is an 80-foot waterfall that empties onto a stunning beach, and the only way to see it is for a lookout point since the beach is closed to visitors.
You can use two separate trails to access the waterfall.
- The first is the Canyon Trail, which suffered damage from a fire but is still open. The trail is around ½ a mile long, and there is a fee to access it.
- The second trail is the Overlook Trail that is directly across from Highway 1. You’ll park along the highway and follow signs through a tunnel under the road. The trail is slightly damaged as well, but can still be accessed by foot and wheelchair, or you can take the stairs. The walk is around 0.6 miles round trip, and this is the most popular trail to access the falls.
* * * CLOSED AREAS ***
THERE IS NO BEACH OR OCEAN ACCESS at McWAY FALLS:
“Cliff areas beyond the fenced boundaries, including the BEACH, SADDLE ROCK and MCWAY FALLS area are completely off limits. Trespassing into these closed areas is a serious offense, resulting in a citation and arrest. The areas are extremely hazardous. Failure to respect the boundaries has resulted in complex rescue operations and tragic loss of lives. Please stay on the trail and out of these closed areas.”
Hiking in Big Sur waterfalls can be a thrilling experience, just keep in mind that it’s always better (and safer) to respect the marked paths and stay away from the closed areas to avoid any risk. All these waterfalls are accessible to most, and the hikes are simple for most people. Take the time to explore each one and enjoy your time outdoors.