Big Sur’s Pfeiffer Falls Trail reopens to the public with scenic expansion bridge and sustainable dirt trail

Big Sur’s Pfeiffer Falls Trail, one of California’s most popular hiking trails, has opened to the public for the first time in 13 years.

The three-quarter-mile Pfeiffer Falls Trail, which is a casual hike to a 60-foot waterfall in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, officially reopened earlier this month following a $2 million reconstruction.

California State Parks and conservation group, Save the Redwoods League have bolstered ecosystems for the trail’s wildlife inhabitants and have improved access to the trail for hikers. Like the original trail, it runs through the gorge and under the redwoods, but hikers will no longer cross through the creek, as doing so causes erosion.

Instead, a 70-foot pedestrian expansion bridge above the canyon provides visitors with a safe and scenic way to span the ravine. Visitors can climb through the redwood canyon to see the mid-sized falls’ white ribbons of water streaming from 60 feet above over exposed rocks into a serene pool.

The Pfeiffer Falls trail completes a 1.5-mile loop with the Valley View trail. New interpretive panels line the trail, educating hikers on redwoods and climate change, the Big Sur watershed, and the partnership between California State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.

The Valley View route leads from Big Sur Lodge to Pfeiffer Falls, and returns by way of Valley View Trail. The route, with its 200-foot elevation gain, winds past towering redwoods, a diverse array of other trees and ecosystems, Pfeiffer Falls, and views of the ocean at the Point Sur headlands.

Pfeiffer Falls Trail was one of the most popular trails in Big Sur before the 2008 Basin Complex destroyed much of the trail’s infrastructure including bridges, railings, steps, signs, and walls. While an out-and-back trek to the falls along the Valley View Trail had remained open to hikers since, the newly opened section creates a neat circuit that takes hikers down to a gorge beneath towering redwoods and passes over the Pfeiffer-Redwood Creek.

Additional improvements along the Pfeiffer Falls Trail include the replacement of more than 4,500 square feet of asphalt and concrete with a more sustainable, dirt trail.

Images: Max Whittaker/ Save the Redwoods League

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. 

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