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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M Trail Cerro San Luis Madonna Mountain Hike to the M Cerro San Luis Obispo California
From downtown San Luis Obispo, it's easy to spot the large white "M" on the side of nearest mountain, Cerro San Luis. If you've looked up at the "M," you may have wondered what it's like to look down from that big white letter. Find out on a 1.9-mile hike that goes right up to the "M". You can also visit the Mission Prep High School "M" as part of a longer hike to the... Read more.
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Distance: 1.9 miles – Elevation change: 560 feet
By: hikespeak Published: Last updated: June 9, 2015 Image:
Hi Mountain Trail Hike San Luis Obispo County Hi Mountain Road Arroyo Grande
Hi Mountain Trail is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Lopez Lake. The San Luis Obispo County-run trail is quite different from the area's coastal hikes and covers a variety of environments in a short distance. Start with a nice-and-easy streamside trail through a dense woodland. Bust up a ridge and suddenly you're in a grassy landscape with panoramic views. ... Read more.
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Distance: 3.25 miles – Elevation change: 575 feet
By: hikespeak Published: Last updated: June 8, 2015 Image:
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Bluff Trail Cambria Marine Terrace Trail East West Ranch San Luis Obispo County California central coast hike
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (previously called East West Ranch) is a 434-acre park right in the middle of Cambria, a coastal town at the north end of San Luis Obispo County. Bordered by neighborhoods to the north and south, the preserve provides public access to a mile of beautiful coastline spared from development except for trails with boardwalks, bridges, and whimsical... Read more.
By: hikespeak Published: Last updated: June 7, 2015 Image:
Old Prospector Trail Pond Trail Loop Irish Hills Natural Area San Luis Obispo Prospector Hill Hike
Today the Irish Hills are like a gold mine for hikers, but the small mountain range in San Luis Obispo historically hosted several mines for chromium and mercury. The ruins of one of these mines can be visited on Old Prospector Trail, which opened in 2015 to join the growing group of trails in Irish Hills Natural Reserve. This hikers-only single track starts in Froom... Read more.
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Distance: 4.4 miles – Elevation change: 650 feet
By: hikespeak Published: Last updated: March 18, 2015 Image:
Visit Montaña de Oro State Park Hiking Trails San Luis Obispo California
Montaña de Oro State Park has dramatic ocean bluffs and summits with sweeping views. The park covers over 8,000 acres and has 7 miles of undeveloped coastline, making it a rare treasure on the California Coast. There is one road into the park, entering from the north from the town of Los Osos, which is just west of the city of San Luis Obispo. For those staying... Read more.
By: hikespeak Published: Last updated: July 1, 2015 Image: