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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park picture in Big Sur
Gary Denham / Flickr

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  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
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Not to be confused with Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or Pfeiffer Beach, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest and covers 1,600 acres on the western slope of the St. Lucia Mountains. Like most state parks in this region, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park features redwood groves, open meadows and waterfalls, but what sets this park apart is its location. Unlike Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Garrapata, which all offer treks along the edge of the coast, this park is further inland and doesn't offer many ocean views. Instead, the main water source is the Big Sur River, which runs through the entire park and is a feature hikers will see while traversing some of the park's trails.

There are 8 miles worth of trails to explore within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The most popular is the 1.4-mile hike to Pfeiffer Falls. This trail is considered to have some of the best redwood groves in the entire park, on top of its beautiful 60-foot waterfall. If you're planning to hike the Pfeiffer Falls Trail, consider adding the half-mile-long Valley View Trail to your itinerary, as it extends left of the Pfeiffer Falls pathway. The Valley View Trail takes visitors to a lookout point with a bench situated in the middle of the Big Sur Valley, affording views as far as the historic Point Sur Lighthouse.

If you're looking for something more strenuous, seek out the 4.8-mile Buzzard's Roost loop or the 8-mile Mount Manual Trail. Buzzard's Roost guides visitors through more redwoods and ends at Pfeiffer Ridge while Mount Manuel is a steep climb that leads hikers to the top of the 3,379-foot-tall Manuel Peak.

Recent visitors were enchanted by the forest that makes up Big Sur Pfeiffer State Park and said travelers planning to camp in Big Sur should do so at this park. Others, however, said that Pfeiffer Falls wasn't all that it was hyped up to be, and the crowds at the park were off-putting. Opinions varied about the difficulty of the trails, so bring sturdy shoes and assess whether or not you're physically up to hiking certain distances.

The park is located off of Highway 1 and clearly marked with a Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park sign. It costs $10 to park your car. The park is open a half-hour before sunrise and closes a half-hour after sunset. Visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park's website for additional information.

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Post Ranch Inn

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#1 Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

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 ...

Read more » lucky-photographer / Getty Images

#2 Andrew Molera State Park

This 4,800-acre park is the largest state park on the Big Sur coast and offers multiple activities and attractions, not to mention several hiking trails. Named after the man who brought ...

Read more » Allie_Caulfield / Flickr

#3 Pfeiffer Beach

If you're on a tight itinerary and don't have time to traverse any state park trails, head to Pfeiffer Beach. Located about 7 miles south of Andrew Molera ...

Read more » Eric Lowenbach / Getty Images

#4 Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Not to be confused with Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or Pfeiffer Beach, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest and covers 1,600 ...

Read more » Gary Denham / Flickr

#5 Garrapata State Park

Situated between the base of the St. Lucia Mountains and the rugged Pacific coastline, this 3,000-acre state park is overflowing with trails highlighting the park's diverse landscape. From ...

Read more » Ingmar Wesemann / Getty Images

#6 Sand Dollar Beach

A great option for those who don't want to work up a sweat on the trails but want to experience Big Sur's beauty from outside the car is ...

Read more » Skyhobo / Getty Images

#7 Limekiln State Park

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 ...

Read more » Photo Courtesy of California State Parks

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park picture in Big Sur
Andrew Molera State Park picture in Big Sur
Pfeiffer Beach picture in Big Sur
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park picture in Big Sur
Garrapata State Park picture in Big Sur
Sand Dollar Beach picture in Big Sur
Limekiln State Park picture in Big Sur
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park picture in Big Sur
Andrew Molera State Park picture in Big Sur
Pfeiffer Beach picture in Big Sur
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park picture in Big Sur
Garrapata State Park picture in Big Sur
Sand Dollar Beach picture in Big Sur
Limekiln State Park picture in Big Sur

McWay Falls is the star attraction at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The 80-foot waterfall used to fall directly into the ocean until a landslide created the beach it now graces.  lucky-photographer / Getty Images

Get your fill of coastal views at Andrew Molera State Park. The 8-mile-long Andrew Molera Loop takes visitors  on the edge of the coast with smaller trails leading down to secluded beaches. Allie_Caulfield / Flickr

It's not uncommon to see hordes of photographers at Pfeiffer State Beach, especially at sunset. The keyhole arch rock is considered to be one of the most photographed natural attractions in Big Sur after Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls. Eric Lowenbach / Getty Images

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the only state park in the region that doesn't offer coastal trails or coastal access. But that doesn't mean it's lacking in attractions. The Buzzard's Roost Trail, pictured above, snakes through the Big Sur Valley, as well as redwood groves.  Gary Denham / Flickr

Of all the state parks in Big Sur, Garrapata is the hardest to find. There is no sign indicating its presence, only turnout points on the highway leading to certain trails. On the upside, it is by far the least crowded. Ingmar Wesemann / Getty Images

Sand Dollar Beach is heaven for treasure hunters. On the southern end of the beach, visitors can find serpentine or jade if they look hard enough. Skyhobo / Getty Images

Limekiln Park got its name from a limestone business that used to operate out of the park's forest. Venture down the Limekiln Trail and you'll see four old limekilns that once provided materials for making cement.   Photo Courtesy of California State Parks

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