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$2 million trail with views of redwoods and waterfall to reopen after 2008 Basin Complex Fire destroyed access to the popular park destination

June 16, 2021 - Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks are reopening a fully renovated Pfeiffer Falls Trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on June 18, 2021. This is the first time that this Monterey County hiking trail will be open to the public since the Basin Complex Fire destroyed the popular tourist destination in 2008.

Pfeiffer Falls Tail BridgePhoto courtesy of Save the Redwoods League

“We’re thrilled to announce the reopening of the Pfeiffer Falls Trail,” said Jim Doran, program manager, Monterey District Roads and Trails, California State Parks. “Before the 2008 Basin Complex Fire, this was one of the most popular trails in Big Sur — a destination for California tourists. With the trail’s many improvements completed, we’re happy to welcome visitors once again.”

The Pfeiffer Falls Trail is a 0.75-mile trail segment that leads under the redwoods, down through a gorge to a 60-foot waterfall known as Pfeiffer Falls. The trail connects with the Valley View trail to form a 1.5-mile loop. The renovated segment is complete with a newly constructed 70-foot-long pedestrian expansion bridge that spans the Pfeiffer Redwood Creek ravine.

The 162,818-acre Basin Complex Fire damaged Big Sur and the trail in 2008. In subsequent years, the Soberanes Fire, landslides and a long closure of Highway 1 south of the park delayed the construction and long-awaited reopening of the trail.

“This challenging project, 12 years in the making, is a testament to the great and enduring partnership between Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks,” said Jessica Inwood, senior parks program manager for Save the Redwoods League. “Together, we were able to reimagine a new trail with the long-term protection of this sensitive coast redwood ecosystem in mind.”

The post-fire restoration and trail realignment work involved removing such fire-damaged infrastructure as bridges, retaining walls, railings, steps and signage.

In an effort to reimagine the visitor experience and protect sensitive habitat, California State Parks and Save the Redwoods League replaced more than 4,150 square feet of asphalt and concrete and seven stream crossings with the newly aligned trail and a pedestrian bridge that spans the ravine and offers dramatic views. This realigned trail no longer brings foot traffic directly through the sensitive streambed, and it restores natural habitat necessary for a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Pfeiffer Falls Tail
Photo courtesy of Save the Redwoods League

In total, the Pfeiffer Falls Trail restoration project cost nearly $2 million to complete.

This includes $909,000 from California State Parks deferred maintenance funding; a $500,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency’s California River Parkways Program with funds from Proposition 13, the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, And Flood Protection Bond Act of 2000; a $406,000 donation from The Parker Foundation; and more than $55,000 in private donations to Save the Redwoods League.

The California Conservation CorpsAmerican Conservation Experience, California State Parks Monterey District and statewide trails crews, and California State Parks Big Sur Sector staff were also instrumental in the trail construction.

Recreate Responsibly
State Parks is reminding visitors to recreate responsibly. Protect yourself, family, friends and your community from COVID-19 by following these prevention measures while recreating in California’s State Park System:

  • Know Before You Go — Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a backup plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick.
  • Plan Ahead  Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
  • Play It Safe  Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips
  • Keep Your Distance  Avoid crowds. If there are too many people at a park or beach, please visit us on a different day.
  • Wear a Mask  State Parks continues to follow the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health.
    • Everyone: In indoor settings, such as museums and visitor centers, face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status.
    • Fully Vaccinated Persons: Face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events.
    • Unvaccinated Persons: Face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Leave No Trace  Leave areas as you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.

For more information, visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/COVID19.


About Save the Redwoods League: One of the nation’s longest-running conservation organizations, Save the Redwoods League has been protecting and restoring redwood forests since 1918. The League has connected generations of visitors with the beauty and serenity of the redwood forest. The nonprofit’s 29,000 members have enabled the organization to protect more than 216,000 acres of irreplaceable forest in 66 state, national and local parks and reserves. For information, visit SaveTheRedwoods.org.
Source: CA. State Parks