Sunday, March 7,
Big Sur: Carmel to San Simeon via the Pacific Coast
Up at 7:30 this morning for an early start. For
photography purposes, we wanted to get on the road
while the sun was still in the east. Just a quick,
decent breakfast at the Village Inn, and we were outta
The Sunday strollers were walking their dogs and the
would-be surfers were waiting for waves as we left
Carmel and headed south on the Pacific Coast Highway to
California’s coastal wilderness known as Big Sur.
The Santa Lucia Mountains barely leave room for
the Pacific Coast Highway to hug the coast along the
edge of the bluffs rising from the sea in the 90-mile
drive between Carmel and San Simeon through Big Sur.
There are breathtaking views around every turn, and we
stopped for as many of them as we could.
Bring on the
As we drove south through Big Sur, to be sure to
catch the highlights of the region, we utilized
information I’d printed off from an extensive website
by John Rabold, a northern California resident and Big
Sur enthusiast. John’s website helped us choose a
number of notable stops.
Rocky Creek Bridge,
Pfeiffer Falls: An easy 1.4-mile round-trip hike
through a redwood forest to a 40-foot falls. Very
pleasant. We had to buy a $10 parking pass, good all
day at a number of California state parks.
Jana climbs through
Pfeiffer Beach: This beautiful beach is 2.5 miles
off of Highway 1 down narrow Sycamore Road (milepost
MON 45.64). The scene reminded us of Land’s End in Cabo
San Lucas. Don’t miss it. Here we had a mini-picnic of
a few ounces of cheese left over from last night’s
snack dinner, the only food we had with us.
Tom takes a closer
look at Pfeiffer Falls
The jagged rocks at
Waves crash through
a natural arch
Partington Canyon Trail: A steep, short trail
through a rock tunnel to an interesting cove. In the
1800s mules pulled timber through the tunnel to the
cove for shipment. Later, the cove was a great transit
point for bootleg liquor.
A creek flows into
the Pacific, Pfeiffer Beach
McWay Falls: The water flows 80 feet over a cliff
onto a beach in a gorgeous little cove. There is a
1/2-mile trail overlooking the falls. We’d seen
pictures a million times, but now we have our own. We
arrived mid-afternoon, a great time of day
lighting-wise. Bet you can’t take just one photo!
Just south of Gorda, traffic came to a standstill
for an hour and a half due to clearing work at a
rockslide. It was necessary work, but it messed up the
end of our day as we ran out of daylight.
McWay Falls, Julia
Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Limekiln Falls: It’s supposed to be spectacular,
but Limekiln State Park was closed, so we missed it. I
don’t know if it was closed due to the 2008 wildfires
and mudslides or due to its close proximity to the
aforementioned rockslide work.
Big Sur view
Salmon Creek Falls: You can see this 120-foot
falls from the road, but a 1-mile round-trip hike takes
you to a much closer and better view. It’s a nice
waterfall, but we were low on light at this point and
had to make a very quick visit.
Black Swift Falls: The last waterfall on our
to-see list, it was too late for a hike by the time we
got there. There is a steep, difficult trail to the
waterfall that we started down, but it was too
dangerous in the fading light, so we turned around.
Then we found an overlook point, but the waterfall was
far away, and it was too dark for a good photo.
Thus ended our tour of Big Sur. We drove in the dark
the last 15 miles to San Simeon, where we got a room at
the Day’s Inn for only $49 plus tax. Wow, what a great
deal! What we didn’t know when we registered was that
at least half the rooms were not habitable. What we
never found out was why.
Very hungry by this time, we had dinner at El
Chorlito Mexican Restaurant. The tacos and salsa were
awesome, but the fajitas were covered in some kind of
sweet sauce, and the chile verde was sweet and tangy as
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