I love Big Sur more and more each time we go. Living in Monterey, CA makes it very convenient to get down there and we are taking advantage of that while we are here. The first opportunity we had to get there was in April when we had the opportunity to drive from LAX to Florence, OR and took as much of Highway 1 as we could. Up until this past weekend (my birthday weekend!), we had only explored on the coastal road. Now we realize there is so much more and I can’t wait to go back. I’m going to start this page by describing our weekend. Below, I will put more things we have done during day trips to Big Sur.
DAY 1 11.11.2017
The first part of the weekend was not in Big Sur; it was in Monterey. Leslie took me out for an amazing breakfast buffet for my birthday. After that we headed down the coastal road to Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (after a few stops at lookouts on the coastal road, of course). We drove up about 7 miles to the narrow Coast Ridge Road to the amazing campground. We spent the night there enjoying the sunset, making hotdogs, playing cards with strangers, and photographing.
The Club Room: For my birthday breakfast, Leslie gave me the option – a wonderful homemade breakfast or the breakfast buffet at the Club Room. It was hard to pass up on the homemade breakfast cause I knew it would be amazing, but we don’t go out for breakfast often and the buffet had everything. We arrived an hour and fifteen minutes before closing and that gave us plenty of time to try almost everything. My favorites were the French toast, bacon, smoked salmon/bagels, eggs…okay I liked it all. They had a great spread with very good quality food. It’s located inside the Portola Hotel and it was $20 for the buffet. It was a good decision and we both enjoyed it quite a bit. I almost forgot to mention bottomless mimosa’s were included.
The Club Room
Nacimiento-Fergusson Road: When I was researching the “hidden” Big Sur, I read nothing but good things about this road. It’s a windy, steep (at times), narrow road that shows off many good views from a higher elevation of highway 1 and the coast line. I was excited to drive the length of this road to experience it for myself (with Leslie, of course)! I don’t know if we’re quite in good enough cycling shape to take it on with our bikes right now, but it definitely looks like a great bike ride (no shoulder). Below are a couple pictures from the West side of the road, looking over the view of the ocean.
(Views From) Nacimiento-Fergusson Road
Prewitt Ridge: There is a lot to explore on the dirt roads of the Los Padres National Forest, in the mountains of Big Sur. We chose our camping destination for the night to be up on Prewitt Ridge, which I found one resource online calling it “one of the best campsites in North America” and I wouldn’t deny that. It is all dispersed camping up there and the roads to get there are not smooth, to say the least. When we arrived, there were many different spots around where you could park and set up camp (no designated sites). We picked our spot and then got out of the car to walk around a little to make sure it was the best spot (it was). We definitely weren’t the only ones up there but I wouldn’t call it crowded. We shared our little area with a couple of guys and then after we went to bed, 2 more cars pulsed up near where we were. The views were incredible (see below), the stars were shining, and it was a fantastic night. We made hot dogs, played cards with strangers, and took photos. Note: fires are not allowed here due to extreme fire danger. We saw other campers not too far away breaking this rule. If you come here, please don’t do that. Lastly, being a dispersed site, don’t expect any water or other services. BYOTP. The coordinates for the campground are 35.970278, -121.450784.
DAY 2 11.12.2017
We woke up pretty early, bundled up, and made some coffee and tea! I don’t know exactly how cold it was but it felt pretty chilly. We must be officially accustomed to the CA weather. We got to see a pleasant sunrise, soaked in the views for a little longer and then drove over to the Cone Peak trailhead before heading home.
Cone Peak: There isn’t a ton of information about this hike online but Google Maps has the location marked and it is accurate. The coordinates of the trailhead are 36.042526, -121.483734. From here, it’s a 3.5 mile out and back hike with beautiful views along the way and even better at the summit (5,155′). Sources online say it’s a 1,922′ elevation gain from the trailhead, however, it was pretty steady along the way. There is a much more challenging route (the Sea to Sky route) starting at the Kirk Creek CG, making it a 23 mile RT hike. If you’re not feeling that adventurous and you’re just looking for a day hike, the shorter route is an excellent option.
MORE FROM BIG SUR
Calla Lily Valley: This gem of a spot is just a short walk from the pull-off along Highway 1. You will find the spot at [36.422836, -121.912393]. From there, take the short and fairly easy trail down by the creek where you will find the beach and the calla lily's. I have heard the best time to see them is late winter/early spring.
Calla Lily Valley
Bixby Creek Bridge: This is one of the most photographed bridges in California. When you get here, there are pull-offs on both sides of the road and there has been plenty of parking to allow us to stop every time we drive by (I just can’t help it). Very scenic.
McWay Falls: The collapse of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in 2016 made it so we were unable to see McWay Falls in April when we stopped in Monterey & Big Sur on our way to Oregon. Now that we are living in Monterey this fall, the bridge opened in October and we were able to see this gem of a view. This is a must stop if you’re driving along the coast. It is apart of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, however, if you only want to see the waterfall, there is plenty of free parking along Highway 1 right where the falls is outside the entrance to the State Park. From everything I’ve read, it is legal to do this. We went once at sunset and then again in the dark!
Gamboa Point: This was probably my favorite coastal view that you can pull off right from the highway to enjoy. There are many that look very similar but something about this one struck me just a little bit more.
Big Sur Taphouse: This is the only restaurant we’ve eaten at in Big Sur and it was fantastic. We actually stopped by to the attached deli but we got there just after they stopped serving sandwiches so we went over to the tap house. I was very happy with that decision. I got the reuben and Les got the caprese sandwich. Both were fantastic and so were the fries. Beer too.
Big Sur Taphouse
FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME IF YOU’RE PLANNING A TRIP UP THIS WAY OR ABOUT YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES IN BIG SUR!