What? : A large coastline park on the mouth of Big Sur River. The long beach with the rock at it north side is the main park attraction, you can also hike the coastline ridges or hike along the Big Sur River.
Where? : The park is located 21 miles south of Carmel on hwy 1.
When? : Year round, warm weekend is the preferred time, summer morning can have fog coverage.
Due note 1: If you park in the lower official parking lot this is $10 per car, per day (bring exact bills). Many parked at the sideways of hwy 1, at busy nice weekend lower parking lot can be full.
Due note 2: There are no lifeguards and ocean conditions can be hazardous.
Due note 3: The beach is ~1-mile away from the parking lot so you will need to carry with you all the things you are bringing to the beach.
Due note 4: Even during the summer, Big Sur's beaches are subject to cooler weather. Sunny days mornings can have a blanket of seasonal fog. To be prepared, bring a change of warm clothes.
My thoughts: This is a nice park that combine a hike and beach activity, excellent for relax summer day. The ocean beach is right where the Big Sur River going into the ocean. In my opinion this is not “a must visit” if you are exploring highway 1 attractions for the first time, but it is fun place to discover, relax time at the beach that can be combined with a long hike.
I visit this park at the afternoon of a warm spring day, it was fun and easy hike to the ocean front, later I explore the beach to the south.
From the parking lot you will take the main trail into the park and after short 0.3-mile you need to turn into the trail on your right.
At this point you need to cross the Big Sur River, if no bridge is available than you must cross in the water, no way to bypass it on either side.
There is a temporary seasonal footbridge crossing the river, it installed around June 15 to October 31. If the bridge is not installed you must cross the running river at knee deep water, bring sandals or take off your shoes before crossing.
After river crossing point additional 1-mile easy-going hike following the flat valley. The clear wide trail, in-part covered by trees, will lead you to the ocean beach, at springtime you will see many flowers at the open meadows.
Once at the sandy beach you can see on your right (north) the large ocean cliff bluff, this is the point most surfer find their wave. At that side of the beach the Big Sur River is flowing into the ocean. You can find the river flat fresh-water lagoon behind the sand dunes that blocking it.
The beach to the south is open sandy beach for at list a mile, in high tide and high wave the water can reach all the way to the cliff-base so it may limit the length of your hike.
There are few longer hiking options that I did not visit.
Taking the Bluffs Trail and coming back from the Ridge trail will be a 6 miles loop hike, covering the open coastline hills and the open space with excellent ocean view from above.
When you are done with your beach activity go back on the same trail you came.
At the end of my end of my visit I decided to look for Highbridge Falls (blue trail).
I hiked south using the trail that is between the river and hwy 1 for 1.2 miles. The hike is parallel to hwy 1 and at some point, after crossing a side stream coming on your left you will find a short trail that will lead you to the road. I crossed hwy 1 and start climbing the fire dirt road, it looks like it is not leading to the right direction, so I cut into the woods and the creek. I did not see any clear trail, large redwood logs cut my direction and it became late. I decided to turn around and look for the waterfall at another time.
Trail map of Big Sur: