North Bound California Coast Highway 1 Road Trip – Part 3: McWay Falls, Big Sur to Monterey Bay, CA

After a few stops at a few California Coast Highway 1 lookouts we continued north bound to McWay Falls and then finally to Monterey Bay, CA.

I really did not want to miss McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA. This is one of the most photographed spots in Big Sur. I was quite paranoid that we would miss it because I couldn’t find a specific spot on the road to stop at when I was doing my research.

I learned that there was no reason to be worried though.

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160702f CA State Route 1 McWay Falls Pfeiffer State Park _02As we approached McWay Falls, Big Sur cars started to slow down and more and more cars started pulling over in along the side of the road. We followed along and parked our car on the side of the car. We changed to some tennis shoes from our flip flops and walked about o.5 miles to McWay Falls, Big Sur (according to Google maps; I didn’t have any internet signal but since I had programed my map for directions to McWay Fall, the map took us there).

There are no sidewalks and the dirt along the road is lined with parked cars making the walk quite difficult to maneuver. Cars are literally driving in the middle of the road to avoid people.

There were some spots along the road as we continued walking along the California Coast Highway 1, but with more traffic and people walking along the road it was much easier to parking a little further away and walk.

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And when knew we arrived when there were lots of people stepping off the road and then continuing on a dirt trail off the road. I made sure that we were going to McWay Falls by asking people.

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It was also confirmed shortly after walking on the trail when we saw the sign pointing us toward the “Overlook Waterfall Trail”.

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There is actually an official parking place at the McWay Canyon Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park located just north of where we entered the trail. $10 for parking and parking is very limited. There is a sign posted right outside saying parking is full (though I did see cars attempting to enter anyways). I think this tunnel takes you to the parking and other trails in theMcWay Canyon Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I made Yuntiha walk in and back out for a picture. haha.

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And then the trail continued to get more crowed with lots of people with their cell phone cameras and real cameras out. Before seeing McWay Falls, we see the beautiful turquoise water washing into the bay. With the gloomy weather the water was gray most of the day; making the turquoise water even more beautiful. Why is it like that?

I also couldn’t help but to notice that big rock. Doesn’t it look like a dog of some sort? The plants on top make it even cuter.

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160702f CA State Route 1 McWay Falls Pfeiffer State Park _28It was a bit of a battle to find a good angel and make room on the somewhat narrow trail to take pictures.

We actually spent a lot of time taking pictures with us in front of the waterfall. And that really did take up the bulk of our time here.

And then as we turned around to find a spot for pictures, I actually managed to look back at where we came from. You can kind of see the trail head near the top right of the picture on the right.

It looks like it was a long walk. It was quite refreshing to walk along the coast. It was starting to get warm for me.

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McWay Falls was a waterfall that flowed directly into the ocean, but after heavy rains and wildfire in the area that created major mudslides a beach was formed. Now McWay Falls falls onto the untouched beach; though the beach disappears during high tide (that’s when you’ll see the McWay Falls fall directly into the ocean.

The 80-ft waterfall from the lookout doesn’t look as spectacular as I had imagined. I was kind of expecting a big Niagara like waterfall, sadly. That is quite an unrealistic waterfall expectation.

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I noticed quite a few people who simple left after taking a few pictures of McWay Falls. Don’t do that!

Continue to the end of the trail; it’s only a short walk. And you will end up an open space area with benches and signs with more information about the area. I couldn’t really get near the signs though because there were quite a few people surrounding them.

And then, there is the view. Beyond the trees and plans that line the cliffs is a spectacular view of the Central California Coast again. This time, with more turquoise waters hitting the bottom of the high cliffs.

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And from the very end of the trail, we get another glimpse of the McWay Falls again. It’s actually a different perspective too.

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The trail is crowded but well maintained. And relatively safe with wooden railings along the cliff.

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And when we arrived at the trail head, we looked up and saw the beautiful blue skies as we looked east. Why is the sky still so gray and gloomy to the west? My whole family had their phones and camera pointing up actually kind of causing quite a few people to stop and look up at what we were looking at. Haha! (I remembered learning something about that psychological effect in my AP Psych class in high school).

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Once again, the skies are a hit or a miss. You look one way it will be gray and gloomy and if you look the other way it’s blue skies and green mountains.

We walked back about 0.5 miles back to our car and once again it felt like a bit of an adventure as we walked along the road. We kind of learned to stop between cars to let some cars pass us; otherwise they would literally be trailing behind us the road.

And since we parked south of McWay Falls, we had to drive through this same area as we headed north.

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There really was a short stretch of the California Coast Highway 1 where we were so excited to see the blue sky and green mountains.

And apparently we were still 6-miles to Big Sur, 37-miles to Monterey Peninsula, and 153-miles to San Francisco. I couldn’t get my Google map to fun as we left McWay Falls, at least I knew that we would somehow make it to Monterey Bay as long as we continued to drive north bound on the California Coast Highway 1.

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The blue skies and green mountains didn’t last long though. The gloomy gray skies were back.

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And then traffic slowed down a bit again as we crossed the Bixby Bridge. There were even more cars parked just north of the bridge! Yuntiha and I contemplated whether or not to join all of those cars and see what they all stopped to see but we decided that that we wanted to just make it to Monterey Bay (we were getting a bit tired).

We actually didn’t know it was Bixby Bridge when we crossed it because I really thought The Big Creek Bridge was Bixby Bridge. There were quite a few cars parked all along another side road as well! I wonder what the view of the bridge from that view point would be? But I am honestly quite satisfied with The Big Creek Bridge.

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After crossing Bixby Bridge, we noticed the traffic going south bound on the California Coast Highway 1 was getting heavier and heavier. The view would better with nothing obstructing your view along the road making the South Bound drive seem much more popular. We actually opted not to take the California Coast Highway 1 home; instead we took the very inland freeway 5 home.

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And as we got closer to Monterey Bay, the landscape changed from a coastal drive to a sort of forest drive. Yuntiha and I both thought some of the trees looked like giant bonsai trees. There was no ocean insight but at least our phones had data/internet again. And we were able to turn on our Google Maps and navigate our way to our hotel in Monterey Bay.

P.S. I can already hear BH saying “I told you!” He recommended that I map out my route with an app called HERE. It allows you to map out your routes, save them, and then make them available when you don’t have internet. Well, I reluctantly downloaded the app, mapped out my route…and then forgot to sync it back up on my phone; making the app useless.

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