Salmon Creek Trail

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Trail Distance: 5.5 miles
Time Estimate: 4 hr 50 min +
Elevation Gain: 1300 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: No
Description

On the Salmon Creek Trail, you'll enjoy a steep and challenging hike that will physically challenge you and your pup, and reward you with stunning views of Big Sur, which might be one of the most beautiful places in the world. This mystical coast has inspired poets and artists for decades, including Jack Kerouac, who depicted the region as having healing powers in his 1962 novel Big Sur. In his poem "Sea: Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur," Kerouac wrote, "The headland looks like a longnosed Collie sleeping with his light on his nose." Maybe you'll see what he saw here in these headlands of Big Sur, or maybe the only snout you'll see will be your dog's as they sniff the air for a scent trail to follow.

The parking for the trailhead on Highway 1 is a gravel pull-off area with no bathrooms or facilities. Forest, meadow, mountains, ocean—the Salmon Creek Trail winds through an astonishing diversity of landscapes. One minute, you're gazing at moss-covered boulders in shady glens of bay, maple, and alder trees; the next, you're on a sunny hillside carpeted with golden grass and orange poppies. This out-of-the-way trail also provides something of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" experience. 

As you ascend through the oak forests and open meadows, there are several points where where you can rest and turn around, including the Spruce Campground two miles in or the Estrella campground a little over three miles in. The trail formally ends after 5.5 miles when it intersects with Coast Ridge Road. The trail gets more narrow and rugged the further out you go. 

Soon after you begin your hike, you can take a quick spur route to the lovely Salmon Creek Falls. You should! You and your pup can have some fun scrambling over rocks on your way there. The hundred-foot falls have colored the rocks as they splash into the exquisitely carved bowl of rock below, giving the scene a painted look. If you're an artist, you should definitely bring your sketchbook here. Maybe you should bring one regardless—this place might make you one. Your pup will be content to paint the air with the happy strokes of their tail.

Trail Features
Forest, Mountains, Steep Inclines
Wildflowers, Waterfall, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
Poison oak grows along the trail, so step carefully. Beyond Estrella Camp, the trail is less well-kept, so prepare for some bushwhacking if you continue past this point.
Address
Salmon Creek Trailhead, CA-1
Big Sur, CA 93920
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours
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Address
Salmon Creek Trailhead, CA-1
Big Sur, CA 93920
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours