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 rolling 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.
- Cost: $10 fee (as of 2018)
- Hours: 8 AM to Sunset
- About 2 miles and 500 feet of elevation
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 shaded by the massive coastal redwoods that line the park and the road. You will then pass the lodge, which has food and souvenirs before paying the fee at the entrance to get into the park.
The park houses a couple of campgrounds all along the beautiful slow-moving creek, and 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 have to walk along the creek, back to the lodge, to access the trailhead. You can park at the lodge, but they frown on that, so we followed the rules.
After crossing the street, you will be greeted by an old set of stairs that look like they could tell stories about the fantastic 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 beautiful views. I suggest doing both, but there is a good amount of elevation gain on the Valley View Trail.
The nice 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, which is what we elected to do. First, we climbed the hill up the stairs and a few switchbacks to take in the view. Unfortunately it was a little clouded that day, so it wasn’t as stunning as we hoped.
After that, we headed back down and took the short spur down to the waterfall. After dropping all the elevation we had gained, we were at the base of this slowly flowing 50-foot waterfall.
Even with the small amount of water flow, it was still a pretty fantastic spot. I loved seeing the colors of the surrounding foliage with the silky smooth water. Here are a few pictures.
Make sure to look up and see the towering giants above you.
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 enjoyed this park and could see myself coming back here or to Limekiln to have camp as both would be good options.