The overlook trail for McWay Falls is a must-stop for anyone taking the scenic drive up Highway One along the Big Sur Coast. The waterfall is stunning, dropping some 80 feet onto a pristine beach in an enchanting cove.
A short gradual trail rounds the cove to a point across from McWay Falls. No one is allowed down on the beach where the waterfall lands, (it is a $400 fee if you are caught down there) so the entire cove remains natural and beautiful. At the end of the 0.6-mile round trip trail is a stone foundation of a house built on the point north of the falls. What a view the residents must have had.
There are two ways to access the McWay Falls Overlook Trail. Option one is to simply park along Highway One for free and start down the trail. You may also pull into Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and pay a fee to hike a bit further. This is a good option if you plan to spend more time in the park and hike the Ewoldsen Trail that heads inland up McWay Creek. To get to overlook trail from the park parking lot, pass through a tunnel beneath Highway One to join the trail on the west side of the road.
There is also short path venturing south of the falls. If you are interested in hiking a bit father you will be rewarded with nice views down the coast. Two miles to the north, is the 1.5-mile Partington Cove Trail, which visits a small beach and a tunnel-accessed cove. No fee or permit is requires to visit McWay Falls, so get out and enjoy.
To get to the trailhead: From Ragged Point, drive 37.2 miles north on Highway One to the well marked Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (60 miles north of Cambria). The park is 8.1 miles south of Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur. Park beneath the sycamores alongside Highway One and locate the trailhead on the west side of the road.
Trailhead address: 65100 Cabrillo Highway (Highway One), Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA 93920
Trailhead coordinates: 36.158819, -121.67054
Use the map below to create your own directions:
This 1.5 mile hike visits a cove and a secluded beach along the scenic Big Sur coast. The cove is accessed through a tunnel.
|Pacific 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.
|Jade Cove and Plaskett Rock Point|
This 1.5-mile hike along an ocean bluff visits a prominent peninsula and a small cove.
|Salmon Creek Falls|
This 0.6-mile hike visits a fine 120-foot waterfall near the start of Salmon Creek Trail.
This hike of 6.5 miles or more reaches incredibly 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 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, 5 miles round trip from Highway One.
|More Central Coast Hikes|
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey, including trails in Los Padres National Forest.
|Tangerine Falls in the Los Padres National Forest|
This 2.5-mile hike visits a beautiful waterfall on the edge of Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara.
|Rose Valley Falls in the Los Padres National Forest|
This 1-mile round trip trail leads to the lower tier of this two-tier 300 foot waterfall. From there one can scramble off trail to the much taller upper tier.
This short 0.65-mile hike visits an 80-foot tall fern-lined waterfall.
|Sturtevant Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains|
This 3.25-mile hike visits a 60-foot waterfall and a lush cottage-lined canyon.
|Fish Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains|
This 4-mile hike starts at a rock quarry with restricted access and ends up at a multi-tiered 80-foot waterfall.
|Escondido Falls in the Santa Monica Mountains|
This 3.8-mile out and back hike visits a 200 foot waterfall that is split into two tiers. The upper tier is 150 feet tall and stunning after a rainstorm.
|Tokopah Falls in Sequoia National Park|
This gradual 3.4-mile hike visits the base of the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
|Lower Yosemite Fall in Yosemite National Park|
This electrifying 1.2-mile hike delivers visitors to the base of the tallest waterfall in North America.
|Darwin Falls in Death Valley|
This 2-mile hike visits a refreshing year-round waterfall on the western side of Death Valley.