A trail that had previously only technically been open to locals has now been made accessible to the public, giving at least Northern Californians and tourists coming from the north a way in to Big Sur to visit campsites, hotels, and any restaurants that have managed to stay open there. The trail traversing across Pfeiffer Canyon had been very narrow and dangerous, but as the Mercury News is reporting, it's been widened and improved and the first tourists in months at least those who can't afford helicopter rides arrived via the trail on Saturday.
Landslides triggered by heavy winter rain took the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge out of commission back in February, and it is now in the process of being replaced something Caltrans has said could be done by late September. Then in May, one of the biggest landslides in recorded California history, the Mud Creek Slide, dumped an estimated 1.5 million tons of rock, dirt, and debris down over Highway 1, effectively cutting off Big Sur from the public in both directions. A single, winding, over-mountain pass still exists to get locals in and out of the area and connecting them to 101 in Salinas, but by one estimate the businesses in Big Sur have been losing $300,000 a day due to this isolation.
Thankfully now Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has reopened, and visitors can drive to Andrew Molera State Park to pick up a daily shuttle that ferries them to the trailhead.
On the other side, tourists are now free to roam down Highway 1 on foot, and there is also a "Survice Shuttle" that will take people down the road, stopping at various points and offering a bit of Big Sur history in the process.
It took some swift work by elected officials and the State Parks, and funds from the state, to upgrade the once rugged trail to a Class 1 trail, including stairs and redwood handrails. It's clear that everyone in the community has been searching for some way to get tourists back into the area, and hopefully this will mean that the summer season won't be a wash after all for already desperate local businesses.
It remains up in the air how long it may take to rebuild or replace the buried section of Highway 1 to the south.