Pfeiffer Falls & Valley View Trail: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

As with anything in Big Sur, Pfeiffer State Park is crazy beautiful. It is nestled in the non coastal side of Big Sur, right when you leave the beaches on Highway 1 for the roll green forest, all before returning to the beach near Bixby Bridge. As with any state park there is camping and hiking to be had in this stunning forest setting. I hiked the Valley View Trail and Pfeiffer Falls while there, here is the info.

Pfeiffer Falls 9

Details

  • Cost: $10 fee
  • Hours: 8AM to Sunset
  • About 2 miles and 500 feet of elevation

The Park

Pfeiffer Falls 8

Once you pass Pfeiffer beach, the turn off for the state park is less than a mile away. Unlike Pfeiffer beach you will be able to see a big sign letting you know the state park is up ahead. As you turn in you are immediately covered by the massive coastal redwoods that line the park and the road. You will pass the lodge which has food and souvenirs then pay the fee at the entrance to get into the park.

Pfeiffer Falls 4

The park itself houses many campgrounds all along the beautiful slow-moving creek, and all with lots of shade provided by the massive trees. For us though we were just there for a hike and parked in the first lot after the pay station.

Pfeiffer Falls & Valley View Trail

From the parking area you actually have to walk along the creek, back to the lodge, to access the trailhead. You can park in the lodge but they frown on that so we followed the rules.

Pfeiffer Falls 11

After crossing the street you will be greeted by an old set of stairs that look like they could tell stories about the amazing adventures that this path holds. After continuing up the path you will reach a split for the Valley View Trail and the waterfall. The Valley View Trail is much steeper but will take you above the trees and provide a vista point and bench with a massive view. I suggest doing both but there is a good amount of elevation gain on the Valley View Trail.

Pfeiffer Falls 5

The good thing about that trail though is you can hike to the top and then the trail will drop down into the canyon and drop you off at Pfeiffer Falls, this is what we elected to do. First we climbed the hill up the stairs and a few switch backs to take in the view, unfortunately it was a little clouded today so it wasn’t as stunning as we hoped.

Pfeiffer Falls 12

After that we headed back down and took the short spur down to the waterfall. After dropping all the elevation we gained we were at the base of this slowly flowing 50 foot waterfall.

Pfeiffer Falls 10

Even with the small amount of water flow it was still a pretty amazing spot. I loved seeing the colors of the surrounding foliage with the silky smooth water. Here are a few pictures.

Pfeiffer Falls 17

Pfeiffer Falls 19

Pfeiffer Falls 15

Make sure to always look up and see the towering giants above you.

Limekiln Big Sur 23

From here you can head back down along the creek and the waterfall trail back to your car. While this is not a particularly long hike it is an amazing way to see the non coastal side of Big Sur as well. Don’t forget to check out Ewoldsen Trail, McWay Waterfall and Pfeiffer Beach if you are in the area.

I really enjoyed this park and could see myself coming back here or to Limekiln to have camp as both would be good options.

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  • Rhonda

    Hi Josh. We’re planning a family trip out west next month, and I just want to say your website has been an AWESOME resource! THank you!! We will be in CA around March 31-April 4 or so…do you have any recco’s for waterfalls that might be more “full” and beautiful at that time? (also we will not be making it up to N. CA, so that’s n/a.)

    • Are you going to be in Southern California or in Central California near Big Sur?

      • Rhonda

        We’ll be moreso in central CA.

        • Depending on where in Central CA, I would consider Pfeiffer Falls and McWay Falls if you are on the coast, Rainbow Falls if you are in the Eastern Sierras and basically any falls in Yosemite if you are traveling to that amazing National Park.

  • Chelsea

    Hi Josh. So glad I came across this blog- it is fantastic! My boyfriend & I are doing a mini roadtrip next week for Thanksgiving from San Diego to Santa Cruz. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for camping places to stay and if you know of any spots that are free. I have been on reserve america & many of the places are booked for the weekend. Any bit of insight would be great! Thanks in advance 🙂