Big Sur is a spectacular coastal region from Malpaso Creek to San Carpoforo Creek in California. The area is accessed via the Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1) which was completed in 1937. Known for the bluffs and beaches, there are many recreational opportunities in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range which lies just inland. The region sees over four million visitors annually. The Big Sur Local Coastal Plan, approved in 1986, protects the region from excessive development. Sixty percent of Big Sur is publicly or privately owned by agencies who will not allow development.
If looking for a hike, the region includes Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Limekiln State Park, US Forest Service Pfeiffer Beach, Garrapata State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park & Point Sur Lightstation, Los Padres National Forest, and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
Once, I spent New Year’s Eve on the Pine Ridge Trail in Los Padres National Forest with a friend visiting from Oregon. It was a rather warm and dry winter. The hike was a popular route near Sykes Hot Springs. One of my favorite trail memories is that we each packed in a bottle of champagne to celebrate the new year. After a long day hiking, we posted up in our sleeping bags next to a long and bottoms up! We each fell asleep quickly after finishing our drinks, surely before midnight. After all, it was probably getting dark around four o’clock. Even though we had set up our tent, we spent the night on the forest floor. One of my least favorite trail memories is that the next morning, I woke up with a palm sized millipede snoozing on my belly. That was likely the most exciting way I ever have and ever will wake up on the first of the year. I was lucky to have experienced this trail, as it is currently closed indefinitely, and may have to be realigned before it can reopen. The cause of the closure was the Soberanes Fire in 2016 followed by the landslides of 2017.
The Soberanes Fire of 2016 burned 132,127-acres. There was one casualty, a bulldozer driver named Robert Regan. 68 structures were destroyed in the fire. The cause of the fire has been identified as an unattended illegal wildfire in Garrapata State Park. At the time, it was the most expensive fire to suppress in the country.
In May of 2017, Mud Creek Mountain slid onto the Pacific Coast Highway, leaving over one million tons of dirt and rocks on the road. The highway was closed for months.
After these natural disasters affected the area, and shortly after the highway was reopened, I met a friend from Los Angeles to spend the weekend camping in Big Sur. We enjoyed a moderate hike in the hills and a day at the beach. Our campsite at Big Sur Campground and Cabins was in a shady spot adjacent to Big Sur River. I have enjoyed all of my time at Big Sur and look forward to returning, hopefully one day being able to explore the Los Padres National Forest once again.
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