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los padres national forest

Swim the Big Sur River Gorge

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park: Big Sur River Gorge July 2014

I had accidentally stopped by Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and headed up the Big Sur River Gorge last summer when we stopped too early in an attempt to do the Tanbark Trail & Tin House loop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I mean, the names are confusing. Really.

The last time I was here, we made it up the river to the swimming hole, but opted to come back at a later time to jump in. I was determined to check this place off my bucket list! And this weekend, I did. Headed down to the park on a hot Sunday morning with some friends. We were afraid it would be foggy and cool, but the fog quickly burned off to reveal blue, blue skies for a marvelous trek up the river.

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Ventana Wilderness: Junipero Serra Peak

Ventana Wilderness: Junipero Serra Peak

Drove down this past weekend to Los Padres National Forest with every intention to bag Junipero Serra Peak. (For the record, the drive down at night is gorgeous with millions of stars as far as the eye can see, so that was worth it in itself.) Did I bag it? Not even close. I underestimated the scorching sun, unforgiving heat, lack of shade, and desolate dryness of this side of the Santa Lucia Range.

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Hiking the Tin House from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns Tin House

I’ve been meaning to do this hike for a while, but never manage to make it out to Big Sur. The one time I did this past summer, I accidentally went to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (I mean, come on, the names are so identical) and ended climbing up the Big Sur River instead. Made it down to the right park this past Christmas, but then drove past the trailhead.

But that’s okay! Because it made this hike even better. I parked at the big turnout down the road from McWay Falls about 500 feet and walked up Highway 1 into park headquarters. For Christmas Day, it was pretty packed full of people already leaving. (It was 10am when I got there.)

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