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Trip Report Carmel to Big Sur Station and back report with photos 6/10/2017

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Hearing reports of how relatively quiet Big Sur has been lately, we decided to brave a drive down Hwy 1 on a Saturday morning and it was a gorgeous day for it.

I took photos along the way to show what's open and closed pix.sfly.com/SBBC_NbX throwing in an old photo from the patio of Rocky Point Restaurant at the beginning of the album (their gate doesn't open until 11am). The view is looking south toward Rocky Creek Bridge. The few times we've eaten there in the past we thought the food quality was fine considering the location but our visits haven't been very recent. It's perched on the cliff side over the ocean about 12 miles south of Carmel.

OK back to the start of the drive, there's signage at various points as you drive south indicating the highway closure. Passing Monastery Beach (the southernmost one at Carmel River State Beach) there's fairly new fencing aimed at funneling people past the warning signs. The warning signs also now have red flags. This is our most dangerous beach and there was a drowning just earlier this year.

We skipped past Point Lobos as we go there often.

Our first stop was at Garrapata State Park to see if the trail work at Soberanes Point on the west side of the highway was done. It was still closed but there's a maybe quarter mile trail to the right where you can get a photo of Whale Peak. It looks like they're installing stairs to the peak and hopefully they'll be finished soon. Parking is at turnouts that aren't really signed. It will be nice once the trail work is completed. On the inland side of the highway are the trail heads for the closed Soberanes Canyon/Rocky Ridge hike. From what I understand the east side will remain closed at least through December. A few miles farther south is Garrapata Beach which is the only currently accessible beach south of Point Lobos. There's a sign near the start of the trail that leads to steps down to the beach. You can also continue along trails on the bluff above the beach https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=579

I stopped for the obligatory Bixby Bridge and Point Sur Lighthouse photos where there was a fortuitous turkey vulture photo bomb :) Point Sur Lighthouse is open for guided tours but there are limited days/times when they're offered and the tours last 3 hours http://pointsur.org/ We still haven't done it but a friend who took the tour recently said it was very good.

We turned around at Big Sur Station and then headed to Pfeiffer Big Sur https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570 A black tailed deer was walking across day use lot 1 as we drove in. We decided to walk everything that's currently open plus part of the campground which is open on a first come, first serve basis through the end of June. It appeared that there were plenty of sites still available on a Saturday morning. Reservations for July onward have been available for a while so are pretty booked. The campground was very peaceful.

The longest trail that's open right now is 1.5 miles one way and ends at the Fernwood campground and cabins. It starts along the Buzzard's Roost trail and goes under the highway. Most of it follows the Big Sur River through redwoods and is a nice, shady easy walk. The redwood deck next to Big Sur Lodge is open as well as the lodge itself and the rest of the short trails form a loop between the lodge and day use parking lots. We left around 11am and the two currently open lots had relatively few cars.

On our way home we stopped for brunch at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. California Market and Pacific's Edge have been merged into the same space that was formerly just Pacific's Edge on the same level as reception. The new patio is off to the side and directly over the old California Market space which is now being used as a sales office. The deck isn't huge but we lucked into a table right by the glass railing. The Hyatt is on the inland side of the highway but elevated enough to have a nice view. We enjoyed our dungeness benedict and burger perched above the highway. The view from the restaurant interior isn't too shabby either. Breakfast/brunch/lunch has always been reliably decent here. Our dinner experience a few years back wasn't great and we feel there are places with better food quality considering their dinner price point. The bar/lounge also has great views and offers a bar menu.

Traffic southbound was heavier at mid-day but still not as busy as normal considering it's a sunny Saturday. Point Lobos on the other hand had cars parked along the highway for probably about a mile in each direction. This isn't atypical on weekends but there might be a slight uptick this summer as many people seem to be opting out of driving the full 26 miles of Hwy 1 that's open south of Carmel which is understandable given time constraints so go now before more people realize this is actually a great time to visit!

There are plans for a shuttle to start on July 1st to access businesses south of the bridge with the Pfeiffer Canyon Trail opening to the public http://www.ksbw.com/article/new-big-sur-shuttle-coming-in-july/10004160 I believe the trail is around half a mile with a 400 ft elevation change. Pics here http://photos.santacruzsentinel.com/2017/03/30/photos-pfeiffer-canyon-foot-trail-in-big-sur/#1 http://photos.santacruzsentinel.com/2017/03/30/photos-pfeiffer-canyon-foot-trail-in-big-sur/#1

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