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Limekiln State Park

Limekiln State Park

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Limekiln State Park is just south of Lucia, California on scenic coast Highway 1. It was the only stop on our Big Sur road trip that we paid for and it was worth it! There is a $10 per vehicle fee to enter the park. There are three trails in Limekiln and I would rate them moderate. Although not great in length, there are quite a few creek crossings where you balance on logs. Although we were visiting California during the intense drought, this state park remained cool and green. Each trail has a different feature, but all three wander among redwoods, through ferns and clovers, and along side creeks.

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One trail is approximately 0.7 miles down and back to the Limekiln Falls waterfall. Limekiln Falls is about 100 feet tall and when we visited was split into two smaller trickles. Perhaps, before the drought, it flowed together as one. We asked a couple who arrived shortly before us to take our photo and the guy really got into with multiple shots and angles. He said “I mean it’s a waterfall! How often do you get to see this?” When I said “Oh we go waterfall hunting as often as we can!,” he was confused until I explained we were not from California!

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A second trail goes to the kilns. This one is about a mile down and back. Four large old kilns are tucked back in the forest. These were used to extract the lime from the stones in the area from 1887-1890.

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The third trail is about .9 miles down and back. Hare Creek Trail wanders back into the redwoods following the creek. There’s no big attraction at the end and we decided to skip this one as we only had one day in Big Sur!

On the other side of the park, under the Highway 1 bridge, is a beach. This area had sand, large stones, and bluffs.

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Limekiln also features around 40 camping spots, some among the redwoods and some by the beach. If I make it that way again, I would love to camp here! It was so peaceful back in the redwoods. I could see kids (and adults!) exploring the creek, forest, and beach in between seeing the rest of Big Sur. This was the exact kind of spot I would have loved to play in as a kid!

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Big Sur Road Trip

Big Sur Road Trip

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We spent one full day exploring the Big Sur Coast during our recent trip to the LA area. The area known as Big Sur is several hours North of LA, especially with LA’s traffic. We got a hotel room in Morro Bay for the night on either side of our Big Sur road trip, so we could have a full day exploring the coast.

Driving straight through from Morro Bay to Monterey, which encompasses all the area known as Big Sur plus other wonderful stretches of the coast, on Highway 1 takes about 3 hours. The roads are very windy and narrow, so you have to go fairly slow. If anyone can drive without stopping, they have a lot more self control than I do. Our plan was to drive the route North and then come slowly back down the coast making all our stops. The thought process was we’d have a better idea where things are and wanted to beat the crowds to the big attractions, like McWay Falls on the Northern end. We definitely made some stops on the way North. We could not resist those rocky ocean coastlines. But for the bigger attractions, I do think it worked well.

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Before you go…

  • Big Sur has almost no cell phone recpetion. I printed off a dozen google maps before we went and did a lot of research on where our stops were. It’s also lacking signage in some areas, so those notes and maps really came in handy!
  • Everything is very expensive in Big Sur. Fill up on gas before you go.

Calla Lily Valley

We didn’t stop at the “right” path. In fact what we traveled down was not technically a path. I said “Let’s follow this trail!” Donovan said “That’s not a trail. That’s a path water runs down.” I said “Well I’m going to follow it anyways.” We ended up on a beautiful point along the coast all alone. The wind was strong, the flowers were pretty, the views were gorgeous, and I felt on top of the world. Lesson: Follow the path less traveled, even if it’s not technically a path.

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Bixby Bridge

This is a very popular stop and it was crowded. Not the best view in Big Sur, but it’s worth a quick stop. I read a tip on this blog to pull off on a dirt road to the Northeast of the bridge and it made a big difference! Almost no one else was there and it was a better view.

DSC_0551 (2)e2McWay Falls

The crown jewel of Big Sur for a good reason. Parking in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park costs $10 per vehicle, but there is plenty of parking along side the road. If the road is covered in cars going both ways, you’ve found McWay Falls. Make sure your car is not touching any of the white lines; they are serious about ticketing. We saw cops ticketing other cars. The path is short, slowly revealing the cove to you until you can see the Falls. It’s a beautiful pristine area, because there is no access to the beach by the falls. McWay Falls drops 80 feet from a granite cliff into the ocean.

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Hermitage

The drive up to this Camaldolese Benedictine monastery is one of a kind. The drive to the top is basically a one lane road full of switch backs and breathtaking views. We didn’t go inside the monastery, but the drive up was worth it.

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Limekiln State Park

Limekiln deserves its own post. It was beautiful and green even in the drought. I loved being back among the redwoods and the park has giant kilns, a waterfall, and beach access. This is the only stop we paid $10 to park and it was worth it. We love hiking and this was the perfect side trip to stretch our legs.

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Willow Creek

We were actually looking for Jade Cove when we ended up here. The views from the top parking lot are fantastic and you can drive down to walk along the beach.

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Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

This area features dozens if not hundreds of elephant seals. Humans can observe from the boardwalk.

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There are a handful of places to eat in Big Sur and they’re all pricey. We stumbled upon the Big Sur Deli and were very happy. The sandwiches were giant and made quickly. We took ours and found a turn off along the coast to sit and eat. Great food and an ocean view for a small fraction of what you’d pay somewhere like Nepenthe.

We spent the night at 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites in Morro Bay. The hotel was clean, the complimentary br eakfast had good variety, plus our room had views of the harbor. We even got a veterans discount booking on their website! I would stay here again.

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If we had multiple days in the area, I would also want to check out: Highbridge Falls, Jade Cove, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (beyond McWay Falls), Pfeiffer Falls Trail, Point Lobos State Park, Salmon Creek Falls, and Sand Dollar Beach to name a few.

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