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.

Hiking Monterey County

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
Lat, Long
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

Camping Monterey County

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:

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.
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.
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.
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.

 

View Central Coast Hikes in a larger Google Map
Or explore hikes around Monterey County on the Hike Finder Map
hikespeak
Nature Trail Loop Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park California Nature Trail - River Path Loop Hike
You don't have to travel far beyond the entrance booth at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to get an introduction to the area's plants and animals. That's because the easy-walk providing Nature Trail starts from a day use lot just inside the park. There are two additional trails along the Big Sur River in this area that can be combined with the Nature Trail to form short easy... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 21, 2014
Valley View Trail Pfeiffer Falls Trail Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park California Valley Overlook Hike Pfeiffer Waterfall
The trails to Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View are a perfect fit for hikers who like to multi-task. The versatile hike in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has a bit of everything. See impressive redwood trees in a shaded canyon, examine colorful wildflowers on a sunny ridge, admire a charming waterfall, and gaze out from a vista point that looks all the way down the Big Sur... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 21, 2014
Big Sur River Gorge Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park California Swimming Hole
Big Sur River Gorge is one of the big draws at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, facilitating a romp to a swimming hole in the wilds of Big Sur. An unmaintained trail connects the park's campground to a inviting pool of clear river water in a granite-walled gorge. There are multiple river crossings along the way for a rock-hopping hike of half a mile round trip. Persistent... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 21, 2014
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground Big Sur California Camping
For one of the quintessential camping experiences in Big Sur, pack your tent and head to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The park is nestled in a verdant valley with campsites laid out beneath oak and redwood trees and along the banks of the charming Big Sur River. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park resides in the heart of Big Sur and the campground is surrounded by outdoor fun,... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 21, 2014
Camping Limekiln State Park Campground Big Sur California Limekiln Campground Redwood Campsites Ocean Campsites Limekiln SP
Limekiln State Park is located in Big Sur about halfway between Monterey and Morro Bay. The 716-acre park has one entrance along Highway One where you will find a 29-site campground. Some sites are nestled in a shaded redwood grove along Limekiln Creek while others are exposed to more sun and ocean views at the bottom of Limekiln Canyon. Campers have access to a small... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 19, 2014