Hikes in Monterey County
Monterey County is a beautiful coastal area of California. 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.
Visit Monterey County
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 several other state parks are also 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.
Bad News: Winter storms caused major damage and multiple closures along Highway 1. Several parks are closed and numerous trailheads are inaccessible. As of April 2017, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are all closed. Pfeiffer Beach is also closed. Salmon Creek Falls, Buckeye Trail, and Cruickshank Trail are all inaccessible due to road damage.
Is there any good news? A short area of the coast is accessible from Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. This open area between closures on Highway One makes it possible to reach Limekiln State Park (campground and trails), King Creek Campground, Plaskett Creek Campground, Sand Dollar Beach, Pacific Valley Bluff Trail, and Jade Cove & Plaskett Rock Point.
Monterey County Hiking
This collection of trails covers 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 directions, photos, GPS maps, elevation profiles, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these day hikes. You can also view hikes around Monterey County on the Hike Finder Map.
|017||Ridge 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.
|020||Pfeiffer 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.
|022||Nature 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.
|025||Big 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.
This short walk reaches an absolutely stunning beach that's a classic feature of the Big Sur landscape.
|0.2 miles (or more)|
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.
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.
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.
|057||Hare 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.
|060||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.
|063||Sand 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)|
|065||Jade Cove and Plaskett Rock Point|
This loop across ocean bluff visits a prominent peninsula and a small cove.
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
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
|080||Salmon Creek Falls|
This out and back hike visits a fine 120-foot waterfall near the start of Salmon Creek Trail.
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 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 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 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 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 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.