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FEATURE ARTICLE

ANDREW MOLERA STATE BEACH PARK DAY HIKES
BIG SUR

By Gene Raffanti

HOW TO GET THERE

Andrew Molera State Beach Park is located about 30 miles south of Carmel in the heart of Big Sur. To get there from points north, travel south on Highway 1, to a point about 7 miles south of the world famous Bixby Bridge. You've, no doubt, seen Bixby Bridge on television and in movies. Allow time for a short stop as the vista points nearby offer wonderful scenic views of the river gorge and the rugged coastline. If you can tear yourself away, continue south on Highway 1 to a point just south of the Point Sur Lighthouse. There is a parking lot to the right across from where the Old Coast Road meets Highway 1. The trail head is near the parking lot. You can park along Highway 1 (not recommended) or pay a small fee to use the parking lot.

ABOUT ANDREW MOLERA STATE BEACH PARK

There are about 20 miles of trails in the park. They are well marked and easy to follow. Our featured hikes are on the beach side of the highway, so the terrain is fairly level with no serious climbs.

Andrew Molera State Park offers, hiking, beaches, a river, a walk-in campground with running water, and public bathroom facilities. There are also provisions for day use if you'd like to take a picnic lunch.

There is a variety of wildlife within the park boundaries and there have been recent attempts to reintroduce bald eagles into the surrounding wilderness area so a lucky hiker may see one.

THE HIKES

BEACH-HEADLANDS HIKE

We recommend starting at the parking lot and following the beach trail along the Big Sur River which travels through the walk-in campground and eucalyptis grove to the beach at Molera Point. Watch for Monarch butterflies clustering in the grove during the winter and see the oldest wooden building on the Big Sur Coast in this area. At Molera Point is a very scenic cove where you'll often find sea otters and harbor seals enjoying the calm waters. From that point you may backtrack and return to the parking lot or cross the river and follow the Meadow Trail south to the Bluff Trail Hike described below.

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BLUFF TRAIL HIKE

The Bluff Trail offers outstanding views of the Big Sur coast. There is often a good variety of wildlife to see, including deer grazing on the meadows, coyotes running off into the brush at the site of hikers, many hawks and an occasional bobcat.

Many people like to follow the bluffs for a while and then drop down to the beach and hike the beach back to the Creamery Meadow Trail.

The alternative is to follow the bluff trail which will loop inland to the Ridge Trail and follow the ridge back to the Meadow Trail that leads back to the parking lot. If you intend to hike these trails you'll be crossing the Big Sur River. Look out, the foot bridges are often washed out so you may be required to shed your hiking boots and socks to cross. For the adventurous hiker this will just add to your experience.

You will given a map, along with a list of park regulations, when you enter the park. The regulations are to protect the fragile habitat as well as to protect park visitors.

If you need further information you may call park headquarters at
831-667-2315.


DRAWBACKS:

Use extreme caution if you decide to enter the water. There are no lifeguards on duty on any of the beaches. The surf and the ocean currents can be very tricky and, even if not marked, there is always the threat of undertow.

VARIATIONS:

We've described the beachside trails here, but there are also some good hikes on the inland side of Highway 1 which afford some of the most stunning vistas of the Big Sur Coast. However, a lot of the land on the inland side is privately owned and we don't encourage trespassing. But there are some public trails and fire roads in the area. The park ranger on duty should be able to advise you about these hikes.



CALIFORNIA SPORTS PARADISE
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CALIFORNIA'S MONTHLY ON-LINE MAGAZINE FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS


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