Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park: Big Sur River & Pfeiffer Falls
A couple friends and I took advantage of the three day weekend and drove down to Big Sur for some good ol’ group camping. With temperatures hovering well above 70 degrees, it was the perfect time to head down to the central coast to get outside and relax.
My car drove down bright and early on Saturday morning to beat traffic on Highway 1 and maximize the fun. (Seriously, Highway 1 minivan traffic is no joke on the weekends) Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has one campground open in the “winter”. The campsites are all packed in four rows. They can fit 8 people but its a squeeze to get four 2-person tents in with room to breathe. Each site also holds two cars.
After setting up camp, we headed up the Big Sur River for some swimming and cliff jumping, like we did in this past summer! Due to recent rain, the river was freezing cold and roaring, but still incredibly clear! The usual, easy obvious path to the largest swimming hole was mostly underwater. Lots of wading and careful rock jumping was involved! In the end, we didn’t make it up to the swimming hole; currents were strong and the water was frigid. We saw a group of people in wetsuits heading down from the hole. Probably a good idea right now! Total roundtrip to the swimming hole is around 3-4 miles. Nothing too difficult or strenuous.
We got tired of teeth-chattering cold water and wanted to work up a sweat. We headed down to the trailhead for Pfeiffer Falls, located by the entrance of the park and Big Sur Lodge. This is a mellow 1.6 mile out-and-back hike with the option to add an extra .6 miles to the Valley View trail. The trail is well signed, meandering through redwood forests and brushy chaparral and back to redwood forests. Pfeiffer Falls wasn’t terribly impressive despite the rainfall last weekend, but I can’t really complain about any waterfalls.
This trail, though short, isn’t for the faint of heart. It has does have some elevation gain and is incredibly dry and can be tough if you’re not well-prepared.