Week 32 (beaches). Trip 8 (Big Sur). With only two beach weeks left to complete my beach-a-week goal (running March through the first weekend of November) and needing to hit the monthly Big Sur goal as well, we set out to visit Jade Cove. It lies toward the southern end of Big Sur between Willow and Sand Dollar. While it boasts a name that sounds like you might hit a sweet bounty, the easy-to-find jade was gathered decades ago (or so it seems to me.). Still, it’s worth a visit if only to boast of the rope-required descent or to test your semi-precious stone-finding capabilities.
First of all, the hike. It starts out on a marine terrace, a dusty flat trail densely bordered by chaparral. This, to me, is the quintessential Central Coast hiking experience.
But the hike to Jade changes quickly at the cliff’s edge.
Stairs help you navigate what could have been a tricky steep bit.
From here on out it is a narrow-ish trail along the hillside, leading you down to the beach in a series of long switchbacks.
It’s not too steep, not too precarious (until you get to the rope).
The very end of the trail is very steep and you will need to use a series of ropes to reach the beach. This looks difficult, but it really isn’t. In fact, the rope makes it much easier. (I wish more trails had them.)
Bonus: it makes for a dramatic photograph. Your friends will be impressed and you might have a nice feeling of adventure and accomplishment.
It was near high tide when we got there, so the beach that was available was small and rocky. I perched on an outcropping for most of the afternoon and just watched the waves lap the coast line as the ocean came in.
Steve, meanwhile was on the hunt for something interesting: an interestingly shaped rock, little piece of jade, maybe some moonstone.
Below you can see how little beach was available to us, and how rocky it was as well.
Back up at the top of the trail, looking southwest across the marine terrace.
Jade Cove’s name may conjure grand plans in your rock-hunting mind. Maybe you will be a better rock hunter than me, and make the find of your life. If not, no worries. You’ll have a remote beach adventure and a sense of the rugged California that once was, and still is, in little pockets like this.