McWay Falls, Big Sur | Week 9 | Peak a Week

My mom and I have a semi-ritual (meaning we usually do it, but if it doesn’t happen we are okay, too) of driving up to Big Sur for both of our birthdays. We’ve been doing this since I was about 18 years old. That’s a long time, people.

May is my mom’s birthday month, so up the coast we headed. I was excited to take her to McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park because even though we’ve been to Big Sur many times, I knew my mom had never seen the Falls.

We could have gotten on the trail closer to the road, but I think entering the trail from the tunnel makes a much bigger impact.

The tunnel to McWay Falls

And what a beautiful view it is. You have to wander the well-plodded trail a few hundred feet till you see it, but when you do…

McWay Falls

After wandering the homestead/waterfall trail, we took it a bit south towards a hidden campground. This hike can barely be called a hike — it’s short; in fact it is shorter than short, but hike it is (all the maps and guidebooks say so.)

Hiking behind McWay Falls

The campsite is really lovely. Really beautiful. And really not protected at all from any stranger just walking through it to get a view. I asked one of the guys camping here (I asked him on the trail, not at his campsite) how it was camping here with all kinds of other travelers just tromping through his campsite. Not great, he admitted. Too bad, because what a location.

McWay Falls campsite

We continued the trail south. These signs… they are like little beckoning fingers to me. Come closer come closer. I use much resistance to stay away. Mostly.

No no no

The beautiful view looking south. Can you see the flat-roof house in the trees? What a life.

Big Sur coastline

Because I’m still in love with the black sage, I share with you some Black Sage in Big Sur.

Sage and bee

Black sage

I don’t know what this is and the picture is completely out of focus and yet I still love it.

Little flowers

McWay Falls is only one part of this hike. It is really just a part of the Julia Pfeiffer State Park. There are a few little meandering paths you can take.

Fire hose

Afterward McWay Falls we jumped back in the car to continue to drive north. Our destination would be Nepenthe for a late lunch and pie and the Phoenix Bookstore for browsing and creative dreamings.

It was my mom's birthday


We got a ledge seat looking directly west. Lovely.

The view from Nepenthe (direct west)

The birds were out in full force. We are used to the crazy Stellar Jays and their crazy Jay ways. But this day our entertainment was provided by a lovely male Acorn Woodpecker…

Woodpecker in the tree

… who wanted our food …

Our food

… and was successful in getting several french fries from us.

The woodpecker

Week 9

3 thoughts on “McWay Falls, Big Sur | Week 9 | Peak a Week

  1. My mother’s birthday is also in May (23) as is my son’s (25) and I wish so much we (Ma and I) could do this trip. What a beautiful day! Thanks for taking us along…and I’m really surprised about the acorn woodpecker and love the pics of him! (And I love the pic of you and Mom) Happy Birthday Moms.

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