Explore the most popular birding trails in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Second time hiking this trail! Beautiful Spring day, with temperatures in the high 70’s low 80’s... On this attempt we were able to get to the top. The previous try was thwarted by heavy overgrowth that I wasn’t prepared for. I enjoy this hike, and except for a brief polite encounter with a Rattlesnake on the way down, it provides some stunning views in all directions!

My friends and I hiked this for a multi-day camping trip in April '16. This was the first time I had ever been on an overnight hike. It was grueling at times and I would NOT recommend it for a first timer who is out of shape. The only reason I did fine on this hike was that I upped my fitness level a little in the weeks prior to the hike (simply by going for daily long walks). The one member of our party who hadn't hiked in a long time and who was totally out of shape had a really, really tough time. There is a lot of up and down, at times pretty steep, and you hit the ups pretty early in the hike. It being my first hike, I couldn't conceive of how hard that would be with a 50+ pound pack!

Having said that, it was a spectacular hike. It was raining most of the time, which we expected, but it was mainly a constant drizzle/mist which made the experience and the views really, really nice. The rain caused a couple of minor hazards, but nothing serious (just have to watch you footing more carefully). Had it been dry and warm, it would have been exponentially harder. Whenever they open this up again, if this is your first overnight hike, I would recommend going in late April (that's when we went) or early May for cooler temps and the chance for some rain (yes, personally, I prefer a little precip on this kind of hike). Also, if your level of fitness is low or non-existent, I'd at least do some daily light cardio for 2-3 weeks prior to your trip.

Again, this is a spectacular hike and I found it to be very rewarding to complete, on a personal level. Most of our party were experienced hikers, most of whom had done this hike before. The hot springs can be a nice reward, even though most of my party was more excited about that than I was, but I think it's worth a soak after such a long hike. The trail was rather busy, which surprised me for such a long hike, but I actually liked seeing and talking to so many folks on such a lengthy and difficult hike. Somehow, I found that that camaraderie made the hike easier (and that's coming from someone who is typically anti-social).

This is a long and at times grueling hike. But it is also beautiful and rewarding and is well worth the effort. I'd definitely do it again and hope to someday.

Beautiful scenery and lots of wildflowers along the trail. We were advised to go counterclockwise and were glad we did. The beginning portion from the parking lot is along a pretty river.

Steep hike most of way to top. We went counter clockwise, but going up clockwise May have been easier. Great views at top. Not overly crowded.

Heat, Height, and Vertigo warning ⚠️
Prudently and honestly assess your abilities before committing to this Trail. It is strenuous, exposed, frequently tick infested, peppered with poison oak, has no water access, is overgrown, sketchy in parts and little better than a goat trail along a precipice past the 1/2 way “Point of No Return.” You must be sure footed and mindful of your feet. If hiking in summer, give yourself an early am start or the brutal heat will be relentless.

If that does not deter you, then you are in for a fabulous treat of wildflowers in spring and stunning mountain ⛰ views of the Coastal Range year round. Experience views of the scenic Big Sur River from virtually an aerial perspective, and contemplate the fire adaptive abilities of CA Native plants as they regenerate underneath burned standing tree sculptures. The false Peak offers 360 views of the Ventana Range and Pt Sur Lighthouse. The actual peak offer views of telecommunications equipment. Skip it.

Great but really HARD ,but it worth it and is a must. Don’t forget which right road is harder

Give it a 4.5 stars. Great hike and work out. The view at the top is a great payoff! The walk along the river at the bottom was a relaxing way to end the hike.

A great short hike with a beautiful view of the valley at the top!

trail running
1 month ago

Very runnable trail in great condition. Walked a couple of steeper descents so as not to wipe out. Nice payoff view at the top!

trail running
1 month ago

Morning trail run before exploring the rest of Big Sur. Bummed that the Pfeiffer waterfall trail was closed but easy run with a view worthy of the effort.

Is this hike back open yet ! =))

hiking
1 month ago

this trail definitely is hard... and deceivingly so. starts out not so bad, then gets more intricate. very thin trail, constantly uphill, goes through various environments. the views at the peak are incredible, huge mountain ranges covered in beautiful clouds. intense, but if you do it, it's worth it!!!

Nice and easy stroll uphill

Nice little stroll to get the blood flowing and get a nice view

hiking
2 months ago

First time to this park, visited from out of state. WOW, what a beautiful trail.
We started by walking along the Big Sur River on the River Trail (from parking lot 3) to catch this trail head.
The redwoods, even the ones scorched from the 2016 fires, were stunning. Steady climbing, but not too strenuous. Trail was wet from overnight rains, but didn't feel muddy or slippery. Parts of the trail are pretty narrow, so you need to watch your footing--some steep drop-offs! Saw several banana slugs--bright yellow (hard to miss). We didn't make it all the way to the top for the views--getting too late in the day. Hope to return sometime to do the whole trail and others at this park.

Nice trail. Steep in some spots. can be slick after it rains. Nice views of the valley and out to the ocean.

great trail. lots of switch backs all the way up. Great for kids, not too challenging. We encounter lots of banana slugs. out and back is about an hour or so.

I did this hike with a group of friends of varying backpacking experience back in 2011 when we were all juniors in high school. This may have been at the peak of its popularity before the fires, and as luck would have it, the springs were VERY crowded, and they are all very small and intimate. It was a really great bonding experience, and for the less outdoorsy friends, it really opened their eyes to the magic of getting somewhere worthwhile on your own two feet. Unexpectedly gnarly up and down the entire way; my ankles were done by the time we got to camp! You can hike out in two days if you need by sleeping at a camp that is about halfway. Definitely a formative experience for me as an outdoors lover. However, I’ll admit looking back that this is one of the less impressive and beautiful hikes in the area of Big Sur. While this trail is being fixed up, I encourage you to explore more of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wildernesses! Who knows, maybe more natural hot water is hiding out there... Remember to practice LEAVE NO TRACE principles! Hike prepared!

Beautiful view. As of 1.28.18 the waterfall was blocked off for maintenance.

hiking
3 months ago

A great hike. The SP web site says it's closed now (Feb 2018). Does anyone know if that's a seasonal closure and it will be open again in the summer, or if it's more long-term?

This trail is closed indefinitely-lots of mudslide damage.

Closed till further notice. All trails should update asap. #cobrahikingclub

Nice hike to the top

hiking
4 months ago

The view is ok, hike is moderate as expected.

hiking
5 months ago

Pretty hike starting in the redwoods and ascending steeply into oaks. The waterfall trail is closed so it’s a quick 2 mile in and out trail.

walking
5 months ago

Take the “hard” (right) route, it’s shaded for the way up with gorgeous forest. The vista at “summit” is not particularly noteworthy, but the trees and air are worth the walk.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail if you're looking for a quick and fairly easy hike in Big Sur. We were running out of daylight so we chose this trail. We reached the top of the overlook right as the sun was setting. Wasn't crowded at all, we did it November 11th and the weather was perfect!

It is a good hike steep uphill and loop back down to rest and have lunch by the little river.

Just hiked this yesterday... awesome view from the top. Has decent traffic even though it is supposedly closed.

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