After a 2008 wildfire destroyed much of the infrastructure of the most popular hiking trail in Big Sur, it's taken all these years to complete a $2 million project to replace it all. But now the public will finally get to hike down to Pfeiffer Falls once again, starting Friday.
It was a project done in partnership by California State Parks and Save the Redwoods League, and as the Associated Press reports, it involved the replacement of bridges, stairs, railings, asphalt walkways, and more. 12 years after it began, the realigned Pfeiffer Falls trail reopens, complete with a new 70-meter pedestrian bridge across Pfeiffer Redwood Creek ravine, that offers dramatic views.
With the Valley View Trail, the Pfeiffer Falls Trail forms just a 1.5-mile loop. But work on the project was delayed in recent years by major closures of Highway 1, which were caused by two different landslides in 2017 and earlier this year, and the collapse of Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in 2017. There were also wildfires in the area that caused further delays.
The redwood-lined, three-quarter-mile Pfeiffer Falls trail that leads down to the 60-foot-high waterfall closed after the Basin Complex Fire damaged it and much of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in 2008. The public regained access to the falls via a temporary trail some years later, but that closed in wildfire four years ago.
"This trail is going to make a lot of people’s day,” says Marcos Ortega, superintendent of state parks’ Big Sur sector, speaking to the Mercury News. “It’s kid-friendly. You get to see a waterfall. You’re in the redwoods. It gives you the full Big Sur experience.”
These days, with the drought, the falls are little more than a trickle. But it's nonetheless a stunning landscape.
Photo via AllTrails