Ewoldsen Trail

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
5.5 miles1664 feet elevation gain
Steady climb up the scenic coast of Big Sur. Redwoods, canyons, ocean views, and a waterfall - it's all here.

One of the iconic steps along any drive to Big Sur is McWay Falls. A short walk from the road is a spectacular view of a small bay, with water from the river falling 80 feet directly onto the beach into the ocean. However, if you're here for more than a few minutes, the Ewoldsen Trail is a great place for a day hike.

There's pretty much everything great about hiking here - old-growth redwoods, canyons, ocean views, and the aforementioned waterfall. For that reason, the trail sees high usage, with a fine layer of dust covering plants near the beginning of the trail and filling the air on a dry day. Once you get further from the parking lot (and the elevation gain takes its toll), it clears up a lot, and becomes a very enjoyable experience.

Parking is free along Highway 1, or you can opt for the $10 paid parking in the lot.

  • Start at the parking lot and get onto Ewoldsen Trail
  • You can take the loop either way, but going straight/right first is recommended if you want to save the best for last. You'll end up at a signed junction after a climb.
  • Take the sign for Waters Trail to reach a scenic viewpoint, overlooking Highway 1 and the ocean
  • Retrace your steps back to Ewoldsen Trail, and take the other half of the loop.
  • Once you're back in the parking lot, look for a sign near the bathrooms to get you to McWay Falls.
  • You'll cross under Highway 1 in a tunnel, and then make a right to view the iconic McWay Falls
  • Retrace your steps back to your car.
Parking Fee
Trail Type
Partial Loop
Limited Parking Recommended River Waterfall
52 - 60°F
51 - 64°F
51 - 63°F
January 24
50 - 61°F
January 25
36.160°, -121.669°