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California State Route 1; exploring Big Sur (Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park)

The day following the visit to Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Point Pinos was clear after the rains had swept through.  That being the case I departed Monterey in the early morning and headed towards Big Sur on California State Route 1.  Approaching the Carmel River it was obvious that despite the uptick in activity in Big Sur that the Mud Creek Slide far to the south on CA 1 was still an ever present problem for through access.


The first stop was at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.






Point Lobos is a peninsula located on the south end of Carmel Bay.  Point Lobos generally considered to be one of the top tier State Parks in California due to having huge views of the Monterey Peninsula to the North, as far as Point Sur to the south, and animal rich waters of the Pacific Ocean.  Point Lobos has been under some sort of protective status back to 1933 when it was in private hands.  Point Lobos tends to be the busiest State Park in Big Sur due to the close proximity to Monterey.  My party and I hiked the Cypress Grove Trail which is on the actual Point Lobos which overlooks the Monterey Peninsula over Carmel Bay.











South of Point Lobos I made a stop at the Bixby Creek Bridge due to it being relatively unobstructed by traffic at the overlook which is extremely rare on a weekend.






When I was returning to Monterey later in the day cars were lined up all the way to the top of Coast Road where the white truck can be seen in the distance. 





Continuing south I stopped at Hurricane Point to have a look at the vista of Bixby Creek to the north and Point Sur to the south.  I figured with the fog rolling in that I might not be able to get a good overlook picture later in the day.



The primary destination of the day was Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is located on the Big Sur River.  The Big Sur River is a small 16 mile long river with a source at the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork Big Sur Rivers in the Santa Lucia Range to the east.  The Big Sur River empties into the Pacific Ocean to the north at Andrew Molera State Park.




Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has a grove of Coastal Redwood trees.  Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is named John Pfeiffer who owned a cabin on the land the state park is now located.  Supposedly a Los Angeles Real Estate investor made Pfeiffer an offer for his property in 1930 to develop a subdivision but he sold to the State of California instead in 1933.





The Buzzard's Roost Trail up Pfeiffer Ridge was what was planned for the day.  The trail is supposedly a 3 mile loop but it was actually closer to 5 miles factoring in the walk from the parking area.





The Buzzard's Roost Trail follows the Big Sur River under the CA 1 before it reaches the bottom of Pfeiffer Ridge.









The Santa Lucia Range and entirety of Big Sur is mostly soft earth.  The terrain lends itself to landslide and makes for muddy trails.  The grade on the Buzzard's Roost Trail was somewhat steep, narrow, and had numerous long drops climbing to the top.











About halfway up Pfeiffer Ridge the Buzzard's Roost Trail splits into a loop, I turned left at this sign.






The tree growth begins to thin out continuing to the top of the Buzzard's Roost Trail which provides some solid views of Sycamore Canyon.








The Mount Manuel Trail can be seen ascending Sycamore Canyon near the top of the Buzzard's Roost Trail.





At the top of Pfeiffer Ridge the treeline opens up and the Pacific Ocean can be seen over Pfeifer Ridge Road.





Along the final ascent to the Buzzard's Roost there are a ton of blue flowers which are covered in bees.  The lower part of the trail was filled with banana slugs which made the bees a somewhat welcome sight.








The Buzzard's Roost is actually at an radio tower.  The view is wide and has a sweeping view of Sycamore Canyon which carries the Big Sur River into the Santa Lucia Range.







The climb back down the opposite side of the Buzzard's Roost Trail Loop was surprisingly steep.  There was actually a lot of people struggling to ascend the right path in the trail.  After leaving Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park we stopped at Carmel River State Beach before leaving the Big Sur area.  Carmel River State Beach is located on Carmel Bay between the Monterey Peninsula and Point Lobos.


Currently the Mud Creek Slide repair is slated to reopen CA 1 near Ragged Point by the end of September 2018.  Presently the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road can be used for loop access of the Big Sur area (see the Challenger Coast Range Adventures for more on that topic).  I'm certain I'll probably revisit the area a couple more times before the Mud Creek Slide is repaired to take advantage of the sparse crowds south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

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