There is so much that Andrew Molera State Park has to offer, including hiking, wildlife, beaches, camping, rivers, forests, and wonderful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Located 20 miles south of Carmel, California, Andrew Molera State Park is a must visit place within Big Sur.
One of the best aspects is that the park offers several trails of varying difficulties. I want to take you on the trails through my eyes. I embarked on the most popular hike at Andrew Molera State Park. You start by crossing the Big Sur River (You can choose to keep your shoes on or off).
Then you take an easy stroll for about 0.75 miles down Creamery Meadow Trail until you are able to turn left towards the Ridge Trail. Take the Ridge Trail for about 50 yards and then stay right on the Bluffs Trail (rather than continue on the Ridge Trail). From the Bluffs Trail you get beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean for 1.7 miles.
You will then have the option to take Spring Trail or Panorama Trail. Take the Spring Trail first; it is well worth the 5 minute hike down to a secluded beach. Once you get down to sea level, you will need to carefully make your way through driftwood debris to reach the beach. This is the perfect time to take out a snack or lunch, enjoy the sand between your toes, and take a rest because the difficult trails are coming up.
Once you are done at the beach, it is time to head back up and take the Panorama Trail. It is a 1.7-mile trail that is at a consistent incline. Along the trail you will notice an opening into a grove of trees. You can either remain on the Panorama Trail the entire time, or take a detour on an unmarked trail. If you venture into the woods, you encounter what feels like an “enchanted forest.” For about a quarter-mile, you are under the canopy of hundreds of trees.
As soon as you exit the grove of trees, take a left. There will be an overgrown trail that will lead you back to the Panorama Trail. You will then run into the Ridge Trail for 1.5 miles. At the 0.7-mile mark, there will be an option to head on the South Boundary Trail, but that will take you farther away from your final destination. After 1.5 miles on the Ridge Trail, you will head down the Hidden Trail for 0.7 miles. Then take the River Trail for 0.5 miles until you reach the Big Sure River once again. Cross the river and feel accomplished because you just finished a 7.5-mile hike. These trails have so much to offer and there are even more trails to explore, so coming back for another round is a must.
The other option would be to camp for a couple of days and explore all of Andrew Molera State Park. There are 24 designated campsites that allow for up to 4 people at each site. It is on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early because there are times where the campsites are occupied at a rapid pace.
Grab your bags because it is time to head over to Andrew Molera State Park down by the bay.