If you’re only going to do one hike in Big Sur – make it this one!

There are so many great things about this trail.

It’s got amazing redwoods and pretty bridges crossing over picture-perfect bubbling streams.

It’s just the right distance that you can fit it in on a day trip to the area and it’s still got a nice amount of elevation gain so you will feel like you’ve completed a good substantial hike.

Your efforts in climbing uphill will be rewarded by truly incredible ocean views.

It’s also super close to other Big Sur attractions, including the famous McWay falls which you can conveniently reach from the same carpark.

And – if you need one more reason to visit this trail here it is – you may even spot a California Condor up here. Now, if you can’t get excited about possibly spotting the largest bird in North America soaring over the coastline with its glorious 3 metre wingspan, then I’m sorry but this friendship is not going to work out.

Now that I’m sure you’re sufficiently excited – let’s talk logistics. To get to this beautiful trail, head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, not far from the little settlement of Posts. This was about 25 miles north from our accommodation at Tree Bones Resort.

The Ewoldsen trail actually begins on another little trail known as the Canyon trail which follows the delightful McWay Creek to a 60 foot waterfall.

You know you’re somewhere special when the trail is this impressive as soon as you leave the carpark. No traipsing through scrub for an hour to get to the good stuff, right from the start you’re following a bubbling creek at is spills and splashes over rocks, winding its way through towering redwoods.


It’s well worth following the Canyon trail at the start of your hike. After just 400 metres, you’ll reach this pretty waterfall.


Once you’ve taken in the falls, double back for a few hundred metres and head off to the left of the creek to get back on the Ewoldsen Trail.

Now you’ll start steadily climbing up the side of the valley, into the trees above the creek.

After about a mile and a half, the trail splits into a 2 mile loop. You can either complete the whole loop, or just go up one side to get to the stunning panoramic views.

It’s hard to capture the incredible height of the trees in pictures. Here’s Miss A and I crossing one of the bridges, where you can see the scale of the scenery.
As you continue to climb, things get pretty spectacular.

Remember to look up – the trees are amazing.


It gets a little scary for those of us who are afraid of heights. But press on. Soon you’ll be up on the ridge line above the trees and be rewarded with phenomenal views. Like this one –


Wind around the trail a little further and you’ll really be impressed.


We’ve made it to the top! Here’s the view looking south.

And finally, you’ll get to a little lookout area where you’ll be greeted by this vista, looking north high above Highway 1.


I LOVE LOVE LOVE the colour of that turquoise water

This is a great spot for a bit of a rest and a snack before heading back down. For the record I can confirm that Wholefoods trail bars taste at least 40% better with this view.

The walk continues to delight right until the end, look at this stunning afternoon sunlight in the trees near the car park.


Trip Notes:

  • All up the trail is about 8km. It’s a manageable distance for most with lots of shady spots for a rest if needed.
  • Even if you’re driving through Big Sur in one day, with so many highlights on this trail, it’s worth even completing part of the hike. It’s stunning from the outset.
  • It is a popular trail and it begins at the same car park where you start the McWay Trail to the famous McWay falls – so best to get here earlyish to get a spot. Parking for the day is $10.
  • You can get more information about Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, including other trails on offer, over at the California Department of Parks and Rec – here.




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