Hikes in Big Sur

Big Sur is a charming town in Monterey County, 140 miles south of San Francisco. The 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.

Big Sur Hikes
Salmon Creek Falls

Big Sur

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.

Big Sur Hiking

This collection of trails in Monterey County along the California coast between Big Sur and San Simeon lists the hikes from north to south. 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, GPS maps, elevation profiles, directions, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these day hikes. An interactive map is also provided.

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
36.28741,
-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
36.25066,
-121.7858
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
36.2464,
-121.7721
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
36.2382,
-121.81353
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
270 feet
36.1770,
-121.6937
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
225 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
50 feet
36.1587,
-121.67054
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
35.91705,
-121.46905
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.
0.25 miles
60 feet
35.816032,
-121.356699
hikespeak
M Trail Loop Lemon Grove Loop Trail Hike Cerro San Luis Madonna Mountain Hike to the M San Luis Obispo California
The mountain named Cerro San Luis is one of the top places to hike in San Luis Obispo, and its trailhead is actually in walking distance from downtown SLO. If you're drawn to the large white “M” on the side of the mountain, you're in luck! Not only is the “M” reachable as an extension of the hike to the summit, but thanks to trail created in 2017, hikers can touch... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Morros
Distance: 2.4 miles · Elevation change: 560 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 2, 2019
Reservoir Canyon Creek Bypass Trail loop hike San Luis Obispo California
During the late teens of the 22nd century, San Luis Obispo has developed Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve into a versatile hiking destination, with upgraded trails and features. Reservoir Canyon Trail and Summit Trail deliver great half-day hikes. However, a shorter option exists that packs Reservoir Canyon into a one-mile experience with 150 feet of elevation change. Use Creek Bypass... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve · Waterfalls
Distance: 1 mile · Elevation change: 150 feet
By: Published: Last updated: February 12, 2019
Reservoir Canyon Trail Summit Trail Loop San Luis Obispo Hike Bowden Ranch Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve
If you've hiked up the hill east of downtown San Luis Obispo on Reservoir Canyon Trail or Summit Trail, you've probably pondered the prospect of connecting the two hikes in order to spend more time enjoying grand views over San Luis Obispo County. Follow Reservoir Canyon Trail up to a stone bench viewpoint, cross Ridge Trail to an old tower housing a bell, and descend Summit Trail to... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve · Summits
Distance: 5.6 miles · Elevation change: 1350 feet
By: Published: Last updated: February 13, 2019
Reservoir Canyon Summit Trail San Luis Obispo Hike to High School Hill Tower Bowden Ranch Open Space
You'll give a ringing endorsement to this San Luis Obispo hike! Reservoir Canyon's Summit Trail ascends to sweeping panoramas over San Luis Obispo and an old tower with a bell that you can ring with a pebble. The hike from Reservoir Canyon to the High School Hill Tower is 4.1 miles round trip with 1,175 feet of elevation change. Expand your horizons from there by following Ridge Trail up to... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Reservoir Canyon Natural Reserve · Summits
Distance: 4.1 miles · Elevation change: 1175 feet
By: Published: Last updated: February 13, 2019
Hazard Peak Bloody Nose Trail Hiedra Trail Hazard Peak Trail Hike Montaña de Oro State Park Hike California
The panoramic summit of Hazard Peak in Montaña de Oro State Park has excellent coastal views. Hazard Peak Trail is the most obvious route to the top and a great choice, rising to the 1,076-foot summit over 3 miles. A junction partway up Hazard Peak Trail makes it possible to add a couple other trails to the approach. Bloody Nose Trail and Hiedra Trail are a combined 0.85 miles long,... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Irish Hills · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 5.55 miles · Elevation change: 950 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 20, 2017