Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Al though there are numerous hiking trails in this park, the most popular one is the Overlook Trail leading one to see the McWay falls flowing over an 80 feet cliff and emptying into the ocean. It is one of the few waterfalls that flow directly into the ocean.
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- McWay Falls
- $10/car parking fee inside the state park
- Free parking outside the park
Ever seen a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean? In reality, there are not too many of such falls. The McWay Falls at Julia Pfieffer State Park is the first that I have seen. The McWay Creek flows over an 80 feet cliff directly into the sand beach that connects with the Pacific ocean.
We took a day trip to Big Sur on a Saturday and stopped at several places along the CA1 coastline, Carmel State Beach, Garrapata State Beach, Bixby Creek Bridge, to name a few. If there were any arbitrary turnouts offering a bella vista, then yes, we did stop at those spots as well. Our plan was to go to a couple more places, but the overcast weather did not really favor our plan.
Overlook Falls Trail
Length: 0.6 miles; Elevation: Insignificant; Time: 15min; Difficulty: Easy
Parking is available inside the Julia Pfieffer State Park for a $10 parking fee. There is also free parking on CA-1 just outside the Julia Pfieffer State Park.
Caution: If you park on CA-1, you will need to cross the road to take the trail to the McWay Falls and cars normally speed here. Once you cross the road, a distinct pathway and a fleet of stairs leads one to the McWay Falls. If you park inside the park, a tunnel that goes underneath the CA-1 safely connects you with the trail leading to the falls.
There is a slew of hiking trails inside Julia Pfieffer State Park, but I have not taken any of them by far. I have only taken the short trail to the McWay Falls.
As you walk on the trail, when you are half-way to the trail end, you will see the beautiful McFalls falling over an 80 feet cliff into the sandy beach that connects to the ocean. Apparently, ages ago, the water fell directly into the ocean, but due to landslides and erosions, it now falls into the beach.
There is no definite path that takes one to the base of the falls, but we have noticed people down there. Would I recommend? Definitely no! It is illegal and perilous to navigate the steep cliffs to get down to the falls. There are a few adventures in life that are not worth the risk and this is one of those!
I always want to hike one of the trails in the Julia Pfieffer State Park, but by the time I start from San Jose, stop at several places along the CA1 coastline and reach this place, I am dog-tired. The trails are certainly worthwhile exploring.
- Layered clothing is recommended
- Free street parking just outside the park