Explore the Big Sur River Gorge

1 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Blake Maitoza

Explore a beautiful granite river gorge that is a quick 0.5 miles off-trail. Once there, enjoy waterfalls and a great swimming hole to cool off in. 

If you are in the Big Sur area during the summer, exploring the Big Sur River Gorge is a must! The gorge is located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and your closest parking will be day use parking lot 3. The trailhead to the gorge can be found at the northeast end of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground between camp sites 111 and 112.

Before you start on this trail it helps to know that there are multiple river crossings as well as climbing rocks, so its best to do this in a swimsuit. The trail starts off very easy and soon leads to a river crossing. At this point, its pretty much up to you on how you wish to continue on and choose your own path. I have found crossing to the left is easiest. As you journey up the river, you will come across countless small waterfalls that you will want to take breaks near and enjoy.

After a quarter mile continuing upstream, you will reach the main destination in the gorge, a giant swimming hole! You will notice a large tree suspended between the granite cliffs, this was due to a flood many years ago. Many people enjoy their time at the swimming hole due to a nice rocky beach to relax at. More experienced adventurers will want to continue swimming past the suspended tree, which leads to more awesome swimming holes as well as ropes leading up the granite cliffs. These ropes make for some epic cliff jumping, but make sure the water is deep enough before you decide to jump!

I do not recommend exploring the river gorge with small children as it may be too difficult/dangerous for them.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Photography
Swimming
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

🥈 Contributor

over 4 years ago

Best in the summer

In the summer, it will likely be warm enough out to brave the cold water. Last time I was here, there was a rope swing. Pack a lunch and hang out in the sun. Great day!

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

over 4 years ago

Hard To Imagine This Place Exists!

Definitely feel like you're in a foreign land exploring through the gorge! If you're able to hike in a small raft I recommend paddling through the deeper sections. Maybe I'm just a wimp but swimming was tough in the freezing water!

Been coming to this gem since I was a kid

Amazing spot! Don't expect the place to yourself though. You'll have plenty of friendly company on a summer or holiday weekend. Due to a fire a few years back, the main swimming hole was largely filled in so cliff jumping isn't a great option anymore, but still plenty deep to cool off. I haven't been further up though so maybe there are still some hidden gems to be discovered.

Stay Nearby

Big Sur, California

Big Sur Lodge

This 62 rooms lodge, handles Wedding and Corporate events up to 100 people. The Restaurant sever Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and the Café and store are open daily.

From $199/night

Greenfield, California

Arroyo Seco

Overview Arroyo Seco Campground is a semi-rustic, but developed facility in California's westernmost national forest. It offers a great escape from bustling city life, into the mountain air and pro...

From $25/night

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Ocean View Gem With Patio & Grill Walk To Beach

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Choose between two gorgeous outdoor living spaces at this 3BR/2BA Carmel Me...

From $496/night

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

New Listing! Ocean View Getaway W/ Beach Access

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Enjoy fabulous ocean vistas and direct beach access at this dog-friendly 3B...

From $713/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Backpack to the Ventana Wilderness' Sykes Hot Springs

    The trek to Sykes Hot Springs is about 10-miles one way along the Pine Ridge Trail. This is a great backpacking trip, but can be done as an out-and-back hike from the campgrounds at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park if you're really moving.The trail is ...

    20 miles 5600 ft gain

  • Backpack the Pine Ridge in Big Sur, North Coast Ridge Loop

    If you are looking to do some backpacking in the Big Sur area, you've come to the right place. This post shares a suggested 4-day backpacking loop in the Ventana Wilderness that will offer a bit of everything - challenging hiking with a healthy d...

    50 miles 3000 ft gain

  • Camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

    The campground at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers a spectacular variety of natural settings to enjoy. Each of the 189 tent and RV sites is located within the redwood groves, oak woodlands, grassy meadows and they even have riverside camping.Eac...

  • Hike to Pfeiffer Falls

    This trail is a staff favorite at Big Sur. This family-friendly waterfall trail provides only a moderate challenge for young children and older family members. There are two starting points for this hike depending on where you stashed the car. If ...

    2 miles