Bluff Trail Loop

HARD 135 reviews

Bluff Trail Loop is a 8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Big Sur, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
8.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,404 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

beach

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bridge out

over grown

washed out

A loop that offers beautiful ocean vistas, meadows and forests.

hiking
4 days ago

SO BEAUTIFUL & SO LONG. Make sure you leave pretty early so you can spend more time on the beautiful beach - if you plan on doing the whole loop

hiking
11 days ago

Pretty hike but little challenge. Same but nice view of the Pacific Ocean the entire way. Take care for poison oak and you may need to bush wack a touch. We did see the trail maintenance crew out to start cleaning it up which was relieving for future hikers.

hiking
13 days ago

Great hike. Amazing views. The beach is a plus, secluded not too crowded and with pink sand!!! Not an easy one but keep with it.... yes poison ivy, be careful. Do it clockwise, easier.

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike! Stunning views. Loved every minute of it. Would do ridge side first as it gets hot and the bluff side is much cooler with the breeze. Would wear pants as it’s a bit overgrown at parts.

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

We did the clockwise direction on a Saturday in July, and the trail was great! The initial climb was strenuous, but it wasn't too bad after that. We enjoyed being rewarded with the Spring Trail to the beach at about the halfway point. As others have noted, there is quite a bit of Poison Oak, so keep an eye out for that. We thought it might be more crowded, but we did not encounter that many other hikers, even on the beach. If you time it right and hit low tide, you may be able to hike bike along the beach all the way back. We were not able to do the beac hike.

21 days ago

Great hike! A little strenuous and very sunny, so be prepared.
The beach is beautiful and private. We almost missed it. There is a marker for Panorama Trail at the turn off. If you can see the bleached wood and the makeshift bridge then you are in the right place.

hiking
23 days ago

Best Hike in Big Sur

Summary
Summary: Creamery Trail > Beach Trail > CLOCKWISE: Ridge Trail > Panorama Trail > Spring Trail > Bluffs Trail > Beach Trail > Creamery Trail

Details
You can just put in directions to Andrew Molera State Park and google maps will bring you to the park entrance ($10 to park in the lot or it's free right along the road 0.1 miles away from the lot).

From the side of the road, you walk down to the sate park parking lot. Instead of entering the lot, go through the white gate/arch to just keep following the road. This road is called the creamery trail. Take your first right to follow the Beach Trail and cross the river (there's a beam, so no need to walk through the water) to stay on the beach trail.

Keep walking and you'll see a trail on the left that says "ridge trail loop". Take that trail (otherwise you can go straight for ~0.05 miles to the main beach but this beach isn't that cool). After starting up the ridge trail, you'll quickly see a fork in the road for ridge or bluff trail. This is the 8 mile loop, definitely take the clockwise route aka the ridge trail/uphill option.

Follow that until you're at the very top and take the only trail down aka the Panorama Trail. Brace yourself for stunning views. Now time for the pink sand beach. As you get close to the water, you'll see a trail on the left going towards the water but it's overgrown and won't be able to take it. Instead, take the next left option, you'll see a ton of driftwood and then you're there!

When you're done enjoying the beach, take the bluff trail (which seems to become spring trail for a small portion). This will loop you back to where you started the uphill climb up ridge trail. From there, just go back to the beach trail and head back to the parking lot.

Sounds a little complicated, but it's really not. Just go up as high as you can and then follow the coast for as long as you can until you find your starting point. Lots of poison oak and parts of the Panorama trail are super narrow so highly recommend bringing poison oak wipes/washing everything afterwards (even shoes).

Summary: Creamery Trail > Beach Trail > CLOCKWISE: Ridge Trail > Panorama Trail > Spring Trail > Bluffs Trail > Beach Trail > Creamery Trail

If you're not feeling like a long hike, you could do the counterclockwise version to the pink sand beach and just don't take the panorama trail uphill. Doing this as an in and out trail to the beach, would prob be ~2 miles each way... maybe less.

hiking
28 days ago

Great hike - epic! I didn’t read the reviews here prior to departing and hiked bluffs trail to ridge trail. Bluff trail has plants on both sides 5 feet tall at times and the uphills were steep. We parked on the street.

hiking
28 days ago

great hike as all others have said. Hard going up the Ridge Trail for moderate hikers. Saw awesome falcon's fighting in the air for food, deer and their babies and beautiful ocean vistas. Beautiful spread of wildflowers- Trail easy to follow... lots of erosion on Panorama trail with a "fence" of poison oak. In fact, poison oak was doing very well on most of the trail. Best to keep appendages covered. bring plenty of water and wear good shoes

1 month ago

So much fun! Rangers will likely advise you to go the bluff trails way, but I highly suggest going the ridge trail clockwise direction if you plan on doing the whole loop. That way you get the hardest inclines out of the way and have the most ocean views on the way down. And you can head down the spring trail for easy beach access and one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to in big sur on your way back. Beautiful trail and not too hard either :)

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! I recommend starting on the ridge trail and finishing on the bluff trail to get the steep part out of the way first. The views were awesome!

hiking
1 month ago

Fantastic hike! Overall, found this to be a physically challenging trail – steep ups and downs, some washed out areas, lots of overgrowth and poison oak. Absolutely beautiful views and totally worth it. We went clockwise and very much enjoyed the amazing views on the back half.

Starting out, there was a good bit of confusion in the parking lot, as the Beach Trail is closed and the Creamery Meadows trail head is not apparent from the lot. There were a few groups milling around until we spotted a small "hiking guy" sign with an arrow near the shack (there was no ranger when we got there). Duh! It's down the access road, to the right as you exit past the ranger shack on foot.

As someone mentioned, there are planks over the river, so no issue there now. Down the Creamery Trail, turned left onto the Ridge Trail (to go clockwise) and up a steep incline. Ridge Trail in general was open and smooth sailing in terms of being washed out or difficult to navigate. Very warm starting out, then windy at the top – and gorgeous! As soon as you start down on the Panorama Trail you are in areas of overgrowth and lots of position oak. Long pants a must, and watch your arms! Some steep parts a bit tough to navigate. Views are totally worth it. Flattens out as you come onto the Bluff Trail and then head towards the beach. The end of the Bluff Trail is closed, so you have to jag back over to the end of the Ridge Trail and come out again on the Creamery Trail. Sounds complicated but it’s not. We went left on Creamery – away from the parking lot and down to the beach - and enjoyed a recovery meal on the beach. Awesome time!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike by the ocean. Especially on a sunny day. They put a FOOTBRIDGE over the stream!! yea! so no more walking thru ankle deep water. Got there about 8:30 on a Saturday (6/30) and practically had the place to myself. I went counterclockwise on the bluff trail based on the ranger’s suggestion that morning. It is overgrown in parts but not really that bad. It is a good idea to wear long pants tho due to the poison oak. Nice ocean views up to the panoramic trail. Got pretty windy due to the fog coming in so a light weight wind jacket is recommended. Its up from there but not too bad or steep, but glad I did it this way as it was easier on my knees.
Once you get to the Ridge trail its like another world. Its a wide tree covered trail. A nice difference compared to the narrow path you just left. Easy hike mostly down hill the 4 miles back.
From the lot it was a little over 9 miles 1200 feet of accumulated elevation and took me 3 hours.
Bathrooms at the parking lot.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful views.. started clockwise which seemed to be the way to go.. started on a bit of an incline but relatively easy throughout.. there was a lot of over growth on the second half, and poison oak pretty near the trail.. pack sunscreen and enjoy!

hiking
2 months ago

This is definitely one of the most picturesque trails in Big Sur. I'd highly recommend it to be done clockwise (Creamery Meadows Trail - Ridge Trail - Panorama Trail with a stop at the Pink Beach - Bluff Trail and then Beach Trail) because you will have: A) a better view of the ocean, and B) a better workout, not to mention that you will get to the beach in the end (like a reward for completing the hike).
Two things to be noted: the end of the Panorama Trail (last 0.4 mile) has had some erosion and you may have to take a parallel trail that hasn't had any maintenance lately and the bushes are high. The Beach Trail is closed at the 0.2 mile point (from the beach) to the starting point, so... instead of using all the Beach Trail to return, you'll have to cross (0.2 mile) to the Creamery Meadows Trail and then follow it back to the parking lot.
Remember that you'll have to cross shin-high creek when starting and finishing these trails (bring a small towel).

hiking
2 months ago

I loved this hike. Stunning views, excellent workout. Took a little over 4 hours including brief stops when "nature called" and to take pics. Be prepared for: WIND (I wasn't; my hair paid the price, haha); poison oak; crossing a shallow creek (knee deep at this time) at the very beginning of the hike; some rather steep sections with tricky footing (we went counter-clockwise, so this was on the uphill portion for us). Loved the challenge; I'd do this again in a heartbeat (maybe try the clockwise method next time).

hiking
2 months ago

Good: Great views, stunning vistas, solid athletic endeavour, totally worth it!
Bad: trail foliage is not managed in spots, bring a towel to dry off your feet after mandatory walking through the creek.
Note: cell reception is gone miles before arriving, so download the map ahead of time.
But again .. is all worth it!

hiking
2 months ago

https://dheerajfavs.blog/2018/06/03/path-to-the-mountain-big-sur/

hiking
2 months ago

A lot of time spent for ok views, trail is overgrown, no maintenance... honestly I was disappointed for all the hype it was given. The crossing at beginning isn’t bad about knee Hi deep water but if you have a ton of time to kill and want a million ticks on you then give this trail a try

hiking
2 months ago

This hike was great! We went clockwise as others have said, it definitely helps as your legs might get tired at the end.

The Park Service had to reroute some of the trails because of the landslides last year, so Creamery Meadows trail is closed. You will cross the knee-deep river and continue on Beach Trail for ~.75 miles. Take a left Bluff trail. Bluff trail will come to a fork and you should go left to take the Ridge Trail. From there everything is the same.

You'll welcome the wind at the peak of the hike when you get there! :) It was so gusty we lost a hat when we went.

Definitely some Posion Oak, mostly lower down, so make sure to wear long pants.

hiking
3 months ago

Really enjoyed this hike. Start by crossing knee deep gently flowing river. Water felt great. Took clockwise route to get all the uphills out of the way early. Had a nice breeze and the ascension grade seemed steady but fair with flat sections to catch your breath. Beautiful redwood forest at the top with nice views on all sides. Coastal portion is overgrown but beautiful and full of color from flowers and plants. Can mostly avoid the thorns but tread lightly on the way down. Reminds me of coastal hikes I've done at Pt Reyes. So refreshing and highly recommended. Not many people early on a Saturday, mainly people coming to beach

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing hike! Went clock-wise as many suggested. The uphill portion was tough, but worth it with all the breathtaking views. Nice conditioning! Took us a little over 4 hours, but we stopped several times for pictures and lunch. Encountered a few people on the trail (on a Saturday) but for the majority of the time we had the trail to ourselves. Would highly recommend this trail! Bring a jacket for the top.

3 months ago

Took the inland loop up. Rolling uphill after another uphill and yet another uphill. Then down along the coast with gorgeous views. Trail a bit overgrown on the downward and coastal side. Watch out for poison oak everywhere. A nice long hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Did the trail clockwise, however agree with Chris Lingle's comment below about both ways having advantages and disadvantages. Clockwise you are going downhill on uneven paths and uphill on stable ground, but it was nice to get the brutal uphill portion out of the way on the first half of the loop. Would recommend wearing something you don't mind getting wet while treading through waist/thigh high water, hiking boots and lots of water+sunscreen! Very beautiful hike! Took us closer to 5 hours, kept getting distracted by nature!!

5 months ago

Beautiful hike!!! Well worth the drive! Can’t wait to go back! Bring a towel to dry off your feet at the beginning of the trail (or bring water shoes).

hiking
5 months ago

Side loop on Spring Trail takes you down to ocean near junction of Bluff Trail and Panorama Trail. Last bit of Spring Trail involves fun scrambling over tangle of driftwood logs, before reaching a very secluded beach tucked in between two headlands. Good for lunch or a snack. We were unfortunately a bit rushed to finish entire loop, which we did in counter-clockwise direction. Although others recommend clockwise, I'm not sure. It's often the downhills that can cause problems, and clockwise you are going downhill on more loose rock and rutted paths, while on the other it is essentially a more continuously sloped road. Advantages and disadvantages either well, but great views in all directions. Entire loop, including lunch on the Spring Trail loop was around 3 hours 15 minutes.

hiking
5 months ago

Go Clockwise if you want to get the hard part out of the way. Strenuous inclines but well worth the effort. You won’t be disappointed at the views of the crashing waves. Bring snacks and water to enjoy along the way!

hiking
5 months ago

The views are amazing. I did it clockwise and thankful I read the review prior. A must do hike if in the Monterey area.

hiking
6 months ago

Gorgeous hike with varying landscapes and killer views. We followed others suggestions and hiked clockwise; most difficult part the ascent is at the beginning too. I’d rate the hike more moderate than hard. Start to finish took us 3 hrs

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