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Photo Courtesy of California State Parks

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Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

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  • 4.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Located about 7 miles north of Sand Dollar Beach, Limekiln State Park is one of the smallest state parks in Big Sur, but it packs some serious history. The 716-acre park is named after the limestone business that once thrived here. In the late 17th century, the Rockland Lime and Lumber Company would quarry limestone then smelt it in a series of wood-fired kilns located in the park. This process produced powdered lime, which is an important ingredient in making cement. The beach at the park acted as a harbor to ship out the powdered lime to other regions. Today, many buildings in both Monterey and San Francisco contain lime that was created in Limekiln State Park.

Along with some unique history, Limekiln State Park is located on the steepest coastal canyon in the continental United States. It is also one of the only parks in Big Sur that offers direct beach access. With many others, including Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Beach and Sand Dollar Beach, you must take a trail to reach the sand. At Limekiln, all you have to do is park your car and the beach is steps away.

Limekiln State Park only has two trails, both of which are less than a mile long, making it perfect for travelers with only a few hours to spare. The Limekiln Trail splits into two, with one pathway leading to four of the old limekilns and the second going to the 100-foot-tall waterfall. The Hare Trail is less than half a mile long and snakes through some of Monterey County's oldest redwood trees.

Many travelers were taken aback by the beauty of the redwoods and the creeks that run through the park and along the trails. Others were fascinated by the kilns and were impressed by their great condition after all these years. Visitors traveling with children lauded the trails for their ease and opportunities for adventure (some areas require hikers to traverse across logs or wade through the river). On the other hand, older and disabled travelers experienced difficulty walking the pathways and warned future travelers accordingly.

Limekiln State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset and it costs $10 to park your car. Limekiln State Park is located off of Highway 1 and is clearly marked with a sign. You can find more information about Limekiln State Park' by visiting its website.

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Named after one of Big Sur's most beloved pioneers, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a favorite among both locals and tourists. A feast for the eyes, the park features seven marked trails that take travelers to tucked away coves, up to waterfalls, along miles-long creeks, through redwood-clad forests and more. Not to mention, it is one of the few areas in Big Sur where scuba diving is allowed. 

The shortest and most traveled path is Waterfall Overlook Trail. Less than a mile long, the trail takes visitors to one of the most popular attractions in Big Sur: McWay Falls. The site is lauded for its beauty, and is a culmination of all geological features typical to Big Sur: The secluded beach is flanked by jagged bluffs covered in shrubs, wildflowers and cypress trees. The falls, flowing from atop one of the cove's granite cliffs, tumble 80 feet down into the cove and get swept up by the ocean. The cove is also a prime place to spot migrating gray whales that pass through Big Sur from December to February, as well as March to May. In the past, some have even come into the mouth of the cove.

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