Highway 1 and a Big Sur Getaway: Hiking Limekiln Trail and more

big sur along highway one

I met her on a plane. She was cute, was wearing a fantastic pair of jeans and she laughed at my awkward jokes and relentless attempts to abolish any silence or distance between us.  It worked. A few weeks later, I flew out to San Francisco to see her and we drove down Highway 1 to Big Sur for a weekend getaway. I fell in love.

Big Sur is one of those iconic American places where so many youth spent their days dreaming atop the shoreline looking out at the Pacific or staring up at the massive Redwoods. Imagine the ideas, products, designs and patents that emanated here in the creative minds of those California dreamers. It is an easy place to fall in love and to fall in love with. Since my visit, the area has been crippled by fires and mudslides, but soon we can all drive Highway 1 uninterrupted once more.

Highway 1 runs along most of California’s coastline from San Francisco down to Orange County. It took a surprisingly limited amount of time to leave the congestion of the Bay Area traffic and head down Highway 1 with the windows down just like an advertisement for California’s tourism council.  We spent the night in Big Sur…I’ll tell you about that in another article. We spent the weekend making short hikes and long talks. As it turned out, the Redwoods and views of the Pacific create a great place to relax and get to know someone… and yourself.

One of my favorite areas was the Limekiln Trail near Big Sur. It is a heavily used trail, but that did not take away from the experience of walking among redwoods for the first time in my life. It was unforgettable. Limekiln Trail gets its name from the four massive kilns that still remain. They were built about 1880. Limestone was loaded into the kilns and redwood was burned to purify the rock before hauling it down the canyon and onto waiting ships. It is said these kilns burned 7 cords of precious redwood (almost 900 cubic feet of wood) to make 100 barrels of lime. Thankfully, those days of wanton resource wastefulness are behind us. They are behind us right?

Today, the woods of California’s coast have taken over. Trees, shrubs and ferns line the forest floor around the kilns where once workers stood and the kilns are now crumbling. They are stoic reminders of the toils and triumphs of American workers, business and the natural resources that paid the price exhausted and sometimes extinguished.

The Limekiln Trail is fairly level and allows hikers to walk beside creeks and to a great waterfall. There are 3 branches of the trail, adding up to about 3 miles, all worth exploring. It’s a kid friendly trail but if you go to the waterfall, expect wet shoes. I sure got my feet wet here. Know what I’m saying? Visit hikinginbigsur.com for more information on Limekiln Trails and the many other must see places including the quick and easy hike; McWay Waterfall Trail located in Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park. Stop and check it out. The view must be experienced by everyone traveling Highway 1.

North of Big Sur is Point Lobos State Natural Preserve, the crown jewel of California’s state park system. Check out parks.ca.gov for information on Point Lobos including closures, fees and guided walks.

The area mentioned has sustained hard times lately; forest fires and mudslides have caused closures of parks and severe damage to Highway 1. A landslide at Mud Creek covered over a third of a mile of highway and a bridge at Pfeiffer Canyon was washed out earlier this year. Caltrans is working on the highway at Pfeiffer Canyon, but it remains closed as of September 2017 along with other closures and road re-construction in the area. Visit CalTrans for up to date road information. The road will re-open and when it does, the redwoods and local businesses will receive you with open arms. I think this would make a great road trip for a compact camper or tow behind. The road is narrow as it winds up and down the coastline and being able to wedge your camping unit into a small space to hop out and take a picture is critical. There are numerous state parks, campsites and trails to explore.

If business finds you in the Bay area and you are at all able, schedule a trip to Big Sur before heading home.  What I have mentioned here is just a start, my sales pitch about this cool area and what it has to offer.  If you have ample time, plan to camp your way up and down Highway 1.  So, start planning for when Highway 1 is ready to roll uninterrupted from north to south. I cannot wait to return. The girl? Well, she can’t wait to go there again with me.


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