Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monterey - 17-mile drive - Big Sur trip in mid-April 2012

Pictures of our trip: Monterey-17MileDr-BigSur trip.

This was our 4th trip to Monterey but we had never been to Big Sur since most trails in Big Sur were closed after the 2008 fire. Most of them have re-opened now. So, our main focus of the trip was Big Sur. Big Sur is around 30 miles from Monterey and the drive is spectacular.

We had Hotel Abrego reserved in Monterey. It was a nice hotel. We had a premium room with fireplace. It wasnt really super-fancy as I was expecting but ok for one-night stay. We reached Monterey on Saturday evening around 5ish. We freshened up at the hotel and drove to my favorite place - 17-mile drive. The enterance is by cash only and is $9.25. It is a beautiful oceanic drive plus you get to see the luxurious houses and the fancy golf course there. I can spend hours there staring at the ocean and so we did:) Jacket is recommended any time there. We then went for dinner at Caffe Trieste in Monterey downtown. We picked this place since we wanted some late-dinner place and it had great Yelp reviews. We both had Paninis and they were delicious. We loved that place. It is an Italian place but they had a lot of food options.
Since we have been to Fisherman Wharf and Cannery Row in Monterey several times earlier, we thought to skip this time. They are both very lovely places and close-by with great sea-food places. Everything in Monterey is close-by:) We did not stop at Carmel-by-the-sea (for beaches) or at Pebble beach for the same reason. Point Lobos State Reserve is another place we missed this time. It is around 7-8 miles from Monterey. All these places are pretty easy to locate since they are all on CA-1.

Next morning, we started from Monterey downtown around 10ish. The weather was spring-like and we loved it. Our first destination was Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The drive to the park is so beautiful that we had to stop after every 5 minutes of driving for beautiful views. It was heavenly beautiful - the mountains covered with clouds, different colors of Oceanic water, colorful vegetation, green trees. From that elevation, everything looked super gorgeous, serene and calm.

Among various vista points on the way, we stopped at Bixby Bridge which is worth a stop for photos and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are no pre-signs for Bixby Bridge but it is very easy to spot when you are close to it. Pfeiffer Big Sur SP, our first destination, was hardly 3 miles from here.

We reached Pfeiffer Big Sur SP after many stops on the way, at around 12pm. We went to the two main trails: Valley View trail and the Pfeiffer Falls Trail. Even though the signs everywhere said that Pfeiffer Falls Trail was closed, it wasnt really. From the signed trailhead, follow the trail to Pfeiffer Falls. Very shortly, on the left, there is trail heading left to Valley View. Cross the bridge at the creek and continue up the hill and you will come to an intersection. The left takes you to the Valley Overlook and the right, takes you to Pfeiffer Falls. We made it easily to both the trails in less than 2 hours. For an average person, both these trails could be a little streneous at some points due to elevation change. The falls at the end of Pfeiffer falls trail are ok - they are not very spectacular but even looking at the falls was peaceful - nice and quiet. Valley View trail had some great views of the valley and lots of lizards on the side of the trails. The fee to the park is $10 and the map was $1.

Next we stopped at the much talked about eating place - Nepenthe, 1.7 miles from the park and easy to spot with their sign. It was a perfect time for lunch for us. Nepenthe offers outside seating with beautiful views of the Big Sur coast. Unfortunately we could not enjoy the views that day since the clouds were too low. They have nice overhead heaters outside for cool days. They have huge spacing and still you have to wait for seating. Food options are limited and it is expensive but worth it since the food was good. I would recommend stopping there. Parking might be a little tricky in the parking lot but it was not a very long wait.

Our next stop was Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP, which is around 8 miles from Nepenthe. We covered two trails there: McWay Falls and Canyon Creek. They were both more than gorgeous. McWay falls was awesome and the Canyon Creek trail was very beautiful, going through forests with the creek flowing along. Both trails were easy, especially the McWay falls, which is a very short walk. The park has not done a very good job with the signs but it was a nice park. Maps were not available. It took us hardly 20 mins for the round trip walk to the falls along with stopping and 35 minutes round trip for the other one. The fee for this park was $10 and it was self-payment. You park in the parking lot right near the entrance. I heard that your paid ticket to Point Lobos SP will get you in this park also, the same day but need to confirm.

The park in Big Sur that we missed was Andrew Molera SP. I think it has beach access. We saw it while driving on CA-1 but had to reach Sacramento (4 hours+ trip) that night, so thought to skip it.

We had decided to stop on the way at Big Sur Bakery on the way back since it was hardly 10 miles from the park on CA1-N, towards Monterey. But we skipped it since we were pretty full from our Nepenthe lunch. Big Sur Bakery has some good reviews and might be worth a stop. We decided to stop at Caffe Trieste in Monterey instead for some coffee and cake. Caffe Trieste has kind of become our favorite now :)