Andrew Molera State Park

PARK: Andrew Molera State Park
LOCATION: The park is 20 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.
SIZE: 4,800 acres.
NATURAL SETTING: In the spectacular Big Sur area, this park is still relatively undeveloped and offers visitors great hiking, fishing and beachcombing with miles of trails that wind through meadows, beaches and hilltops.
AMENITIES: Not many. A ruderal trail-campsite is basic so be prepared and bring the necessities.
WHAT TO EXPECT: This is the largest state park along Big Sur, and its many attractions range from easy-access trails and Captain Cooper's 100-year-old pioneer log cabin to horseback rides and bobcat sightings. With some of the most consistent surf at the Big Sur Rivermouth this area is handles the wind better than most places in this area.
WHAT MAKES IT GREAT: Beyond the drive-in entrance, you won't find any roads throughout the entire park.  Solitude is a common experience here so bring comfy sneakers or sturdy boots and prepare to do plenty of walking if you want to get the best of what Big Sur exploring has to offer. Talk about a timeless place - that is Andrew Molera State Park along the rugged Big Sur coastline of Monterey County. There has been very little visible change over the past 37 years that I have visited the place. It retains it’s undeveloped, natural state as with most of the surrounding Big Sur wilderness. If you walk into Molera from Coast Highway 1, you pass by the pioneer-era, rustic Cooper Cabin built from area redwoods during the mid 1800s. The dirt path winds through thick, overhanging Eucalyptus trees as you reach the seashore. Although not a surfing destination per se, If the swell is big enough, waves break off the rocky outcropping at the mouth of the Big Sur Rivermouth for an entertaining right hand slide.
When you’re out there, the smell of brine is strong and you taste and feel the difference in the steady, chilly mix of fresh and salt water. Your view ashore faces rolling hills of golden grasses tufted with coastal redwoods and oaks, topped by the prominent, granite mountain apex of Pico Blanco.  Scattered make-shift shelters built from large driftwood logs offer some protection from the frequent, steady winds and dot the sandy shore. Horse riders from the Molera Horseback Tours make an appearance out across the beach. Down a ways, curious beachgoers check out a large, dead whale that washed ashore a couple months previously. Yeah, pretty ripe, but the prevailing breeze blows the smell down wind.   This is a raw, unspoiled coast and nature will clean up things like that in due time.
The campsites aren’t fancy, pretty spartan even, but if you are a surfer, you’re not hanging out around the tent much anyway. This land invites a lot of time well spent with beachcombing, hiking or swimming up at the beautiful Big Sur River gorge with its cliff jumps into a large, natural fresh water pool.
Big Sur is a special place. If you are lucky enough to catch some waves at Andrew Molera State Park during the day, then have an evening drink on the patio of the nearby, classic Nepenthe restaurant afterwards.  Enjoy some spectacular coastal views while a huge yellow moon dramatically rises over the Santa Lucia Mountains and feel the local magic.
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