For the first time in 13 years, hikers can once again hit the spectacular Pfeiffer Falls Trail in California's ridiculously scenic Big Sur area on the state's central coast.
The moderate, 0.75-mile path through a majestic redwood forest at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park had been closed since 2008, when the devastating Basin Complex Fire blazed through the area.
Subsequent fires, landslides, and a long closure of Highway 1 delayed repairs to what had been "one of the most popular trails in Big Sur," said Jim Doran, the program manager for the Monterey District Roads and Trails of the California State Parks system, in a statement.
But thanks to a joint effort from California State Parks and the Save the Redwoods League, the fully renovated route resumed welcoming hikers on June 18.
(Pfeiffer Falls Trail; photo courtesy of Save the Redwoods League)
Leading past enormous redwood and oak trees and down through a gorge, the trail culminates in views of the 60-foot-tall Pfeiffer Falls. Among the most striking improvements to the trail is a 70-foot-long pedestrian expansion bridge (pictured at the top of this post) across the Pfeiffer Redwood Creek ravine.
Additionally, workers have removed or replaced fire-damaged infrastructure such as retaining walls, railings, steps, and signage.
The Pfeiffer Falls Trail connects with the park's 1.5-mile Valley View path to form a satisfying, vista-rich loop.
(Pfeiffer Falls; photo: Andrew K. Smith/Flickr)
Located 26 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park charges a $10 admission fee per vehicle, but that will get you into any other state parks for the rest of the day (if you're on a Highway 1 road trip).
There's no ocean access at this woodsy, river-centered site, but photogenic Pfeiffer Beach is just about a mile to the south (you'll be charged a separate $10 entrance fee, though, because it's not a state park).
As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, many other hiking trails in the Big Sur area are in bad shape at the moment due to the same fires and landslides that plagued the Pfeiffer Falls jaunt.
Since that one is now newly spiffed up, it could be crowded in upcoming weeks, especially as post-pandemic travelers seek to relieve months of feeling cooped up by heading into the outdoors.
California parks officials advise visitors to check conditions at their chosen park ahead of time (here's a link to the webpage for Pfeiffer Big Sur) and have a backup plan in case a destination is full.
Frommer's has some tips for surviving crazy-busy national parks that might also be helpful for navigating especially popular state parks this summer.