The Pfeiffer Falls Trail
Loop hike with the Valley View Trail
Length 2.2 mi · Climbing 560 ft
The canyon portion of this hike (i.e., the Pfeiffer Falls Trail) is closed until summer 2012. However, Pfeiffer Falls can still be reached by the Valley View Trail.
The Pfeiffer Falls trail, by far the most popular hike in the park, starts near the lodge and climbs a redwood-filled gorge to reach a decent-sized waterfall. On the return trip, take a detour to get a great view of the Big Sur Valley.
Throughout, the trail is wide and dusty from over-use.
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
From the lodge, the trail climbs the canyon by way of a series of bridges, passing by attractive mid-sized redwoods the entire way. Most of the trees here are an unusually dark and even brown, since they are not bleached by salt air or coated with lichens. A patchy light green carpet of sorrel covers the ground and there is a moderately dense understory of tanoak. The combination of colors gives Pfeiffer Big Sur a unique look. Overall the woods have a fine, healthy appearance, although with the characteristic dry look of the southern redwoods.
At the top the trail reaches a viewing platform.
From the falls, the well-used Valley View trail climbs out of the canyon, almost immediately leaving the redwoods behind and entering an oak forest. The trail is not as scenic as the Pfeiffer Falls trail but is worthwhile because of a panoramic viewpoint that it leads to. The spur trail that leads to this viewpoint is less-used and narrower than the other trails in this loop, and can get overgrown with poison oak. The trail follows a ridge with occasional glimpses across the valley. Eventually the trail emerges at a viewpoint over the Big Sur Valley, looking toward the ocean. The grand sweep of the valley, fading into the pale blue distance, makes a spectacular view.
The Valley View trail switchbacks steeply back into the canyon.
© 2006 David Baselt