River Trail

EASY 3 reviews
#9 of 10 trails in

River Trail is a 4.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Big Sur, California that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

4.5 miles 436 feet Out & Back

kid friendly



nature trips


horseback riding



River crossing, wildlife, lovely secluded coastal area, wildflowers, and meadows. This is a straightforward easy walk to a secluded and driftwood covered beach. You have to cross the Big Sur River which at times can be a raging torrent. In spring it can be knee high, so be careful. The hike encompasses a walk along the beach where you can view sea otters in the California Coastal Preserve. This is also a good spot for whale watching during seasonal migration. If you hike far enough down the beach, there is a good chance you will be all by yourself, occasionally people still sunbathe in the nude, although the practice has been discouraged by rangers in recent years. You can climb a bluff and connect with the Bluffs Trail if you like, but it will require some sticky bushwhacking.

1 year ago

This short but pretty trail loosely follows the river and crosses it at 2 points, both of which make for great places to stop and enjoy a little cool water over dusty toes. A bobcat was seen wandering down the path in late morning.

3 years ago

Nothing to see here. Take the beach trail to the Bluffs trail. Then to Panorama or Ridge.

3 years ago

A nice view, but primarily used for horseback riding. If you're here to hike or walk, I'd recommend using the Beach Trail instead, which will take you to the same place in the same amount of time.

Continue on the Creamery Meadows Trail for a little bit for access to the beach.