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.
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A map of the overlook trail courtesy of California State Parks