Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park is a must visit park in Big Sur. The 3,762-acre park is located 37 miles south of Carmel, California. Pfieffer Burns offers camping, hiking, and spectacular views. Even the Julia Pfieffer Burns Underwater Area (established in 1970) is available for advanced scuba divers to explore the wonders of the Pacific Ocean.
The original settlers were Christopher and Rachel McWay in the late 19th century. The land was originally called Saddle Rock Ranch as the rock formation in McWay Cove resembles a saddle.The land switched hands several times throughout the next few decades until in was acquired by Lathrop and Helen Brown in 1924. The couple built one of the first electrified residences in Big Sur in the form of an intricate stone house in McWay Cove. A few walls and fragments are still present today as their will demanded for the house to be demolished after their death. The current name of the state park is dedicated to a once respected local resident and rancher, Julia Pfieffer Burns, who befriended the Browns during their ownership. The Browns renamed the property to dedicate Burns when the land was inherited by the State of California in 1961. Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park was officially established in 1962.
There are seven marked trails at Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park, each offering something different to enjoy.
Canyon Trail – Make your way to the 60-foot Canyon Falls by following the McWay Creek for about 0.25 miles.
Ewoldsen Trail – Beginning at the Canyon Trail, the trail goes on for 1.5 miles until it turns into a 2 mile loop that overlooks groves of trees and the ocean.
Tinhouse Fire Road – Prohibited by public vehicles, accessible for hikers to visit the historic tin house.
Tan Bark Trail – A 3.2-mile trail that leads to the coastal ridge tops.
Waters Trail – The 1-mile connector trail starts at the Ewoldsen Trail and ends at the Tinhouse Fire Road.
Partington Cove Trail – Head down to Partington Creek at the bottom of a canyon. The trail splits towards a small beach or through an historic tunnel to overlook old loading docks for ships.
The seventh trail – the Waterfall Overlook Trail – leads to the must see beauty of McWay Falls. The iconic 80-foot waterfall drops over a cliff to join the wonders of the Pacific Ocean in McWay Cove. The beach was created by a land slide that occurred in 1983. Beach access is prohibited, so please just enjoy from a distance.
Grab your bags because it is time to head over to the Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park down by the bay.