Visit One Of The Most Beautiful Waterfalls On The West Coast At This California Beach

Waterfalls are a prime example of nature's magic. Their constant motion and soothing sounds are mesmerizing, and people around the world travel far and wide to witness their magnificent cascades. One majestic waterfall in California is possibly one of the most beautiful on the West Coast. So, where exactly is this plunging beauty? And how easy is it to get to?

McWay Falls, located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, is an 80-foot waterfall that falls onto an untouched California cove. The stunning flow crashes directly into the ocean at high tide, but due to a landslide in 1983, a pristine sandy beach now collects the spilling water the rest of the day. While a short hike is necessary to view the waterfall, it's easily trekked. Don't pass this natural wonder on your next trip to Big Sur. McWay Falls is one of the most unique sights along the California coast.

How to get to McWay Falls in Big Sur

The drive along Highway 1 to Big Sur offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. From the scenic route, pull into the parking lot at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Parking at Big Sur State Park is $10 per vehicle. At the entrance kiosk, find the stairs, which lead hikers to the trail. Follow the path under Highway 1 and head north. The views heading north of McWay Cove, the beach, and the waterfall are spectacular. 

The Overlook Trail to McWay Falls is a short and easy hike. Due to trail erosion and dangerous conditions, the trail is currently closed at the halfway point, but the open section still allows hikers to spot the waterfall. Also, take note that there are no footprints on the sand. This is because hikers are not permitted on the beach near McWay Falls. If you try to get your toes in the sand, you'll likely receive a citation.

Trails are open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Keep in mind, though, that the route to spot McWay Falls can get crowded. Arrive early to have a better shot at more one-on-one time with nature.

More waterfalls in Big Sur

McWay Falls aren't the only gorgeous waterfalls in Big Sur. While some trails leading to cascading water in the Big Sur area are closed due to recent fires and floods, many wonderful trails remain open. Pay close attention to all signs and stay on designated trails. 

Salmon Creek Falls is an open and easy out-and-back hike (.3 miles) to a 120-foot cascade. Simply enough, the Salmon Creek Trail takes hikers to Salmon Creek Falls. When the trail splits, stay to the left to spot the waterfall. Be mindful of poison oak and slippery rocks, especially in the rainy season.

Another option, which is a bit longer (1.8 miles), is the out-and-back Valley View Overlook in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. While Pfeiffer Falls is not as big as McWay Falls or Salmon Creek Falls, the 35-foot waterfall is still worth seeing. To see the cascade at its best, hike in after a recent rainfall. To get to the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park trailhead, keep your eyes peeled for an entrance sign on the east side of Highway 1. It's located approximately 26 miles south of the picturesque town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.