McWay Falls is “that” Big Sur waterfall that everyone has seen and photographed. I’d traveled up and down Big Sur countless times before making it a point to visit. It has been on my “must-see” list for years, but I never got around to it until this year. Continue to read this article, and we will be sharing additional information on how to get to Mcway falls.
When to go: All year
The “trek” to McWay Falls is more like a leisurely stroll along a mainly paved path. It’s just about a half-mile when you factor in the weave and bob around the spectators. However, it is worth the effort. McWay Falls is one of Big Sur’s most stunning and photographed sights. McWay Creek’s waterfall cascades immediately into the beach. The water’s tint may be bizarre. When the jagged cliffs, raging surf, and coastal forest all come together, magic occurs.
Falls Trail, right before the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park entrance, is the best way to get to McWay Falls. You’ll have to pay a day use charge to park here, but the Falls Trail runs under a tunnel beneath Pacific Coast Highway, making it a safer alternative than battling for a parking place along Highway 1.
The Falls Trail in Big Sur leads to the spectacular McWay Falls. After passing through the tunnel, make your way to the right along the bluff’s top. You’ll get a magnificent view of McWay Falls, where McWay Creek’s water cascades 80 feet straight onto the shore. Surprisingly, that beach wasn’t always there.
A large landslide near the cove in 1983 spilled vast quantities of debris and silt into the sea. For over a year, the Pacific Coast Highway remained blocked while personnel attempted to clean the slide and stabilize the slopes. The cove, which used to be filled with sea water, was now filled with sand and debris carried up by the landslide.
The terrace from what used to be the Waterfall House, a vacation home of Lathrop and Helen Hooper Brown, now serves as the viewpoint. The ranch was given to the state on the condition that it be maintained as a state park in honor of Julia Pfeiffer Burns, one of Big Sur’s pioneer women. It’s difficult to imagine a more lovely bedroom view from the patio.
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Tips for McWay Falls
- Visit in the late afternoon for the greatest lighting.
- Do not disregard the warnings not to down the cliff to the shore. It hastens erosion and may result in more access restrictions. Set a good example.
- Many people park on the side of Highway 1, but you may escape the danger by parking at the state park’s parking lot on the east side. You’ll have to pay a few dollars, but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful tunnel that leads you securely and straight to the fall sight.
- The viewpoint is a fantastic site to observe for gray whales traveling south to the calving grounds off the coast of Baja California in December and January. In March and April, you may watch them heading north.
- On the east side of PCH, there are restrooms within the state park.
Consider the following:
The McWay Falls observation route is a must-see for anybody driving along Highway One along the Big Sur Coast. The waterfall is breathtaking, falling 80 feet into a gorgeous beach in a secluded cove. A viewpoint for McWay Falls is a short 0.6-mile round trip trek that may be accessible immediately from Highway One or from Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park parking facilities.
There are two routes to get to McWay Falls Overlook Trail. The first option is to park for free beside Highway One and begin walking down the route. You may alternatively pay an admission charge to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and travel a little farther. If you want to spend more time in the park, such as hiking Canyon Trail, which runs inland up McWay Creek past a picnic spot to the lesser Canyon Falls, this is a terrific alternative.
Take the designated path on the inside of the bend in the road between the top and lower parking spaces to get to Overlook Trail from the park parking lot. Walk down a large dirt path that leads to a tunnel under Highway One. Turn right here to join the path on the highway’s west side. If you park along Highway One, the path is immediately south of the park entrance on the west side of the highway. Continue down the route beyond the tunnel for views of McWay Falls.
The route leading to McWay Falls
The route winds its way around cliffs to a vantage point overlooking McWay Falls. The cove below the route has a gorgeous beach, but people are not permitted to enter the area where the waterfall drops on the beach, ensuring that the whole cove stays natural and attractive (A big fine is charged to anyone who gets caught down there).
The greatest views of the falls and the stone foundation of a home constructed on the point north of the falls are at the end of the short gentle route. The home was constructed in 1940, and the site was eventually transferred to the California State Parks system. What a spectacular view the locals must have had!
Several instructive panels have been placed up in this area by the park. One image depicts McWay Falls before the big landslide that happened just north of here in 1983. The landslide sent a lot of debris into the water, which flowed south and gathered here, forming the beach visible today in the cove near McWay Falls. The waterfall had formerly fallen straight into the ocean. The beach may vanish in the future.
McWay Falls is so breathtakingly lovely that you’ll want to stay at the trail’s end and watch it fall. When you’ve finished exploring the falls, just return the way you came. If you wish to go farther, look for a little trail that leads south of the falls. Take this route for a magnificent view of the shore to the south. The 1.5-mile Partington Cove Trail, which explores a tiny beach and a tunnel-accessed cove, is also two miles north. Bikes and dogs are not permitted. There is no price or permission required to see McWay Falls if you park along Highway One, so come out and enjoy!
Now you know how to get to Mcway falls. The next thing you should do is to explore the falls and figure out things to do. Looking south from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was forced to shut in March 2019 due to severe storm damage. Burns State Park, Julia Pfeiffer, is now closed! For more information about the park and the trail closure, go to the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park website.
During the closure, McWay Falls may be seen from a pullout on Highway 1 around mile marker 36.2, north of the park entry. McWay Falls Overlook Trail had to be partly blocked owing to unsafe trail erosion from previous storms prior to the 2019 damage.
To get to the trailhead, travel 37.2 miles north on Highway One from Ragged Point to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which is clearly signposted (60 miles north of Cambria). The park is located 8.1 miles south of Big Sur’s Nepenthe Restaurant. Park along Highway One under the sycamores and look for the trailhead on the west side of the road.