author’s note: the pull of Big Sur is like a feeling deep within your conscience that cannot be ignored. After visiting for the first time in 2017 (check out my posts here and here), I could not wait to return and be back in the natural phenomenon that is Big Sur. As with Big Basin, returning to a place for a second visit offers many advantages. I was able to fit much more into this visit while still being able to enjoy the quiet and serene moments Big Sur offers. In this post you’ll see one of my favorite hikes as well as a couple of the beautiful sites Big Sur has to offer. First things first…
Buzzard’s Roost, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
- length: 2.6 mile loop
- terrain: steep, mostly uphill through a forested area; trail is well maintained
- payoff: wide, sweeping views of Big Sur from the ocean to the mountains.
- The trail itself is straightforward and is mostly uphill. Most of it winds through the forest until you reach the top where the trees thin out and you see the blue ocean in front of you and green mountains behind. I did the hike on a hot day but the forest makes the whole thing relatively cool and shady. It only gets really hot when the direct sunlight hits you at the top. Check out some of the views from the trail below…
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
“I pulled up Pfeiffer and my heart sank as I read a sign that said ‘Campground Full.’ I decided to try it regardless and lo and behold, there was ONE spot left. It was perfect for me. I setup camp and went straight to the river as it was a hot day. People were swimming around like it was a local pool so I followed suit. The water was cold but it felt refreshing in the heat. I swam around a bit and then decided I was ready to tackle “Buzzard’s Roost.” I had already done this hike in October so it was kind of nice already knowing what I was in for. I reached the summit and I was all alone. I took a couple minutes to myself before making my way down for a peaceful night of camping beneath the Big Sur sky.” – 6/12/18, 5:39pm, Morro Strand S.P
- The campgrounds at Pfeiffer have been unbelievable each time I’ve gone. At this point, I’ve stayed in 3 different sites between two separate visits and each campsite has been clean with different advantages unique to each one.
“The next morning I woke up ready to mob. I was one of the first people on Pfeiffer Beach and it was awe-inspiring. The beach is split into a couple different parts leaving trails of water interposed throughout the hard sand. Near the shore lay giant rock formations that have little cuts or ‘gateways’ in their sides.” – 6/12/18, 5:39pm, Morro Strand S.P.
- Walking around Pfeiffer Beach is one of the most unique aspects of Big Sur. The day before I was hiking through a forest 800′ above sea level and now here I am, the morning after on a warm, sandy beach soaking up the sun. I’d say the one characteristic that defines Big Sur is it’s rock structures. Enormous monoliths that not only dot the mountainsides and cliffs of Big Sur but they also line the coast; sitting on beaches and submerged in the shallow water. I missed Pfeiffer Beach on my first trip but now that I’ve seen it once, I don’t think I’ll be able to visit Big Sur again without seeing this place every time. Speaking of seeing places twices…
McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
“After the beach, I made my way back to McWay Falls because I couldn’t be all the way out here and not see it again. It was just as beautiful, the only difference was the area where the house stood, was closed off. My picture wasn’t quite as good as my first one but I still had a great view of the falls. After that, I made my way out of Big Sur and back towards Carmel.” – 6/12/18, 5:39pm, Morro Strand S.P.
- Big Sur is one of those places that contains magic that you cannot quite define or explain. Each time I’m here, I reach a level of happiness and comfort that is hard to replicate anywhere else. This second trip was more enlightening than the first and I look forward to the tradition of returning here for years on end.