Hikes in Monterey County

Below is a collection of trails in Monterey County along the California coast between Big Sur and San Simeon. These hikes are listed from north to south, but the table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you pick your next hike. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, maps, directions, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these day hikes. An interactive map is also provided. You can also view hikes around Monterey County on the Hike Finder Map.

Highlights of Monterey County

  • This 0.6-mile hike in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park observes a stunning Big Sur waterfall that pours 80 feet right on to the beach.
  • This 1.1-mile hike extends from Highway One to an ocean bluff with fantastic views of the Big Sur Coast.
  • This 0.6-mile hike visits a fine 120-foot waterfall near the start of Salmon Creek Trail in Los Padres National Forest.
  • This stunning hike of half a mile or more reaches two scenic overlooks as it descends to a long beach on the Big Sur coast.
  • This 5 to 9.25-mile hike into Silver Peak Wilderness starts with bold ocean views and crosses redwood groves to reach Upper Cruickshank Camp at a junction with Buckeye Trail, 2.5 miles from Highway One.
  • This 6.5 to 9.25-mile hike reaches incredible ocean vistas and trail camps in the Silver Peak Wilderness. Connect Cruickshank Trail and Buckeye Trail for an excellent shuttle hike of 8.25 miles or more.
  • This 8.7-mile loop at the north end of Big Sur crosses a picturesque coastal ridge and bluffs in Andrew Molera State Park.
  • This short walk reaches a Big Sur beach with awesome rock formations rising out of the sand.

Monterey County Hiking

Some of Monterey County’s finest trails are found around Big Sur, a charming town 140 miles south of San Francisco. The Big Sur name also applies to the fifty miles of coastline between Big Sur and San Simeon, which is as beautiful as any in the world. Big Sur is defined by dramatic and beautiful landscapes. Tall green mountains drop to rugged shores and mesmerizing blue waters.

The drive up Highway One is so scenic that many people don’t get out to hike at all, but they should! The region offers numerous great trails. Los Padres National Forest protects much of the wild coast, but there are other parks involved, including Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, home of one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the planet, McWay Falls. Many of the trails in the Big Sur region are free, so get out of the car and stretch your legs on these fine trails with unforgettable ocean views.

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
Pfeiffer Falls Valley View017Ridge Trail - Panorama Trail - Bluff Trail Loop
This loop in Andrew Molera State Park crosses a coastal ridge, bluff, and beach that are packed with amazing Big Sur views.
8.7 miles
1,100 feet
36.287409,
-121.8441
Pfeiffer Falls Valley View020Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View
This out and back trek is like two hikes in one, reaching a waterfall in a canyon of redwoods and a vista point overlooking the Big Sur River Valley.
2.4 miles
550 feet
36.250663,
-121.785803
Pfeiffer Falls Valley View022Nature Trail - River Path Loop
This easy loop explores woodlands along the Big Sur River and a redwood grove that includes the unique and impressive Proboscis Tree.
0.55 miles
15 feet
36.250472,
-121.781215
Big Sur River Gorge025Big Sur River Gorge
This off-trail hike ventures up the Big Sur River on a water-wading boulder-hopping adventure to a crystal clear pool that’s a gorgeous Big Sur swimming hole.
0.5
50 feet
36.246397,
-121.772097
Pfeiffer Beach030Pfeiffer Beach
This short walk reaches an absolutely stunning beach that's a classic feature of the Big Sur landscape.
0.2 miles (or more)
10 feet
36.238199,
-121.813533
Partington Cove050Partington Cove
This out and back hike visits a tunnel-accessed cove and a secluded beach in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park along the scenic Big Sur coast.
1.5 miles
230 feet
36.175267,
-121.696075
Canyon Trail Big Sur053Canyon Falls
This out and back hike heads inland up McWay Creek past a picnic area in a redwood grove to a lovely little waterfall in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
0.9 miles
300 feet
36.16014, -121.668523
McWay Falls055McWay Falls
This out and back hike looks out on a stunning Big Sur waterfall that pours 80 feet right on to the beach in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
0.6 miles
100 feet
36.15776,
-121.672406
Limekiln Trail Limekiln Falls Hare Creek hike057Hare Creek Trail, Limekiln Trail, and Falls Trail
This out and back hike in Limekiln State Park explores a trio of trails along lovely streams in redwood-lined canyons, reaching Limekiln Falls and historic lime kilns.
2.65 miles
250 feet
36.010436,
-121.518588
Pacific Valley Bluff Trail060Pacific Valley Bluff Trail
This short out and back hike extends from Highway One to an ocean bluff with fantastic views of the Big Sur Coast.
1.1 miles
50 feet
35.932648,
-121.468927
Sand Dollar Beach063Sand Dollar Beach
This short hike to Big Sur's longest beach passes two scenic overlooks on the way to the sand.
0.5 miles (or more)
125 feet
35.921639,
-121.466913
Jade Cove065Jade Cove and Plaskett Rock Point
This loop across ocean bluff visits a prominent peninsula and a small cove.
1.5 miles
150 feet
35.917096,
-121.469079
Cruickshank Trail hike070Cruickshank Trail
This hike into Silver Peak Wilderness starts with bold ocean views and crosses redwood groves to reach Upper Cruickshank Camp at a junction with Buckeye Trail, 2.5 miles from Highway One.
5 - 9.25 miles
1,150 - 1,925 feet
35.843073,
-121.403025
Buckeye Trail075Buckeye Trail
This hike reaches incredible ocean vistas and trail camps in the Silver Peak Wilderness. Connect Cruickshank Trail and Buckeye Trail for an excellent shuttle hike of 8.25 miles or more.
6.5 - 9.25 miles
1,450 - 1,925 feet
35.821754,
-121.374454
Salmon Creek Falls080Salmon Creek Falls
This out and back hike visits a fine 120-foot waterfall near the start of Salmon Creek Trail.
0.6 miles
100 feet
35.816032,
-121.356699

Monterey County Camping

There are many places to camp along the Big Sur coast in Los Padres National Forest and various California State Parks. Here are a few of the developed campgrounds:

Plaskett Creek CampgroundPlaskett Creek Campground
This 45-site campground in Los Padres National Forest is positioned across Highway One from Sand Dollar Beach and Plaskett Rock Point on the coast of Big Sur.
Kirk Creek CampgroundKirk Creek Campground
This outstanding 33-site campground in Los Padres National Forest has enormous ocean views from a bluff along the Big Sur coast.
Limekiln State Park CampgroundLimekiln State Park Campground
This small Big Sur campground at the bottom of Limekiln Canyon has sites along a creek through a redwood grove and near the ocean, with access to trails up Limekiln Canyon.
Pfieffer Big Sur State Park CampgroundPfieffer Big Sur State Park Campground
This large campground in the heart of Big Sur is spread out through oak and redwood groves along the Big Sur River.
Andrew Molera State Park CampgroundAndrew Molera State Park Trail Camp
This trail camp is easy to reach (just a short walk in) with campsites in a meadow along the Big Sur River near Molera Beach.

 

View Central Coast trails and campgrounds in a larger map
Or explore hikes around Monterey County on the Hike Finder Map
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Rattlesnake Flats Trail - Badger Trail - Bluff Trail Loop Montaña de Oro State Park Hike
Completely resurfaced to be wheelchair-friendly, the Bluff Trail in Montaña de Oro State Park is one of the most pleasant coastal trails in California. Once you have hiked the Bluff Trail, you will probably want to see it again (and again and again). Revisit the Bluff Trail and get just a bit more elevation by creating a loop with Bluff Trail, Badger Trail, and... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Tide Pools · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 1.65 miles – Elevation change: 150 feet
By: Published: Last updated: March 16, 2016
China Flat Trail Simi Peak Trail Simi Hills hike Oak Park California China Flat Dead Cow Trail Suicide Trail Loop Oak Savanna
Looking up at the orange sandstone outcroppings on the rugged slopes of the Simi Hills, you would hardly expect the terrain above to host a peaceful oak savanna. Walk through this grassy area shade by tall oaks to ascend to Simi Peak, the highest point in a mountain range that spans the boundary between Ventura County and Los Angeles County just north of the 101 Freeway. ... Read more.
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Tagged with · Conejo Valley · Free Trails · Oak Park · Simi Hills · Summits · Dog-Friendly Trails · Mountain Biking Trails
Distance: 6.2 miles – Elevation change: 1090 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 25, 2016
Gaviota State Park Campground Santa Barbara area Gaviota California beach camping Gaviota SP Campground
Pack the tent and your flip-flops when you visit the campground at Gaviota State Park. Each site is ambling distance from a sandy beach along the scenic coast west of Santa Barbara. A railroad trestle, pier, and hiking trails are close to the campground, which is just off Highway 101, making it a convenient place to camp near the ocean. About 30 miles west of Santa... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: May 18, 2016
East Cuesta Ridge Road Mount Lowe Road Santa Lucia Mountain East Cuesta Ridge Hike San Luis Obispo
East Cuesta Ridge Road, also known as Mount Lowe Road, is a dirt road that crosses the dominant ridgeline in the Santa Lucia Mountains northeast of San Luis Obispo. Views from the trail extend over San Luis Obispo and its surrounding peaks toward the ocean to the west at Morro Bay and to the south by Oceano Dunes. The hike starts just off Highway 101 at the top of Cuesta... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: April 3, 2016
Stenner Creek Trail Red Dog Trail Poly Canyon Road Loop San Luis Obispo Eucs Hike
Above Stenner Creek Road near the Cal Poly Campus, a freestyle bike course is hidden within a eucalyptus grove. The easiest route to The Eucs is to head up and back on Stenner Creek Trail. For a longer hike that explores neighboring grassland on slopes below the Santa Lucia Mountains, consider this 4.25-mile loop with 550 feet of elevation change. This hike takes Stenner... Read more.
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Tagged with · Cal Poly · Creeks · Free Trails · Santa Lucia Mountains
Distance: 4.25 miles – Elevation change: 550 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 4, 2016