Much of the Big Sur coastline on Highway One is closed…to automobiles but not cyclists! Highway One is shut from the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which is just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, down to about Limekiln State Park, a distance of about 23 miles one way. The north end is closed due to the demolition and reconstruction of the bridge, which won’t be done until sometime late September, and at the south end due to Paul’s Slide, which is expected to be cleared by the end of this month. Thus, there is no car traffic other than shuttle service on this section. However a week ago the so-called Community Bypass Trail, which was only open to locals willing to clamber around the bridge up a steep hillside towards Pfeiffer State Park, was opened to all visitors. The trail has been improved into a Class 1 trail, i.e. widened, stabilized, graded, and steps with rails installed. The trail is open during daylight hours only. A quick call to the Monterey District office of the State Park system confirmed that cyclists are allowed to walk (NOT RIDE!) their bikes on the half-mile trail over to the closed section of Highway One.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride one of the most scenic sections of the Big Sur coastline completely free of automobiles. On the other side of the bridge some services are open including Nepenthe, which is a fabulous place to take lunch because of the fantastic patio view of the Pacific, and I’m sure they’re welcoming the business after this miserable winter. Keep in mind that after Paul’s Slide is cleared cars will be able to come up from the south, so the window of opportunity is narrow, about the next two weeks. But the only traffic coming from the south will be those willing to drive over Nacimiento-Fergusson Road from 101 because the massive Mud Creek slide has closed off Highway One from Cambria. That slide is so gargantuan that Caltrans does not expect to have it reopened until sometime in 2018 if not beyond. So even after Paul’s Slide is cleared there will be less traffic on Highway One.
If you’re driving down to ride Highway One, you can park at Andrew Molera State Park (which is otherwise closed) in the shuttle lot and cycle Highway One down to the trailhead. For more information: https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/570/files/Pfeiffer%20Big%20Sur%20SP%20Opens%20July%201.pdf
UPDATE: Someone else had the same idea and beat us to it. We’re heading down to ride Big Sur this week before Paul’s Slide is cleared. In the meantime before our report, you can read about Big Sur by bike here.
UPDATE 2: Paul’s Slide was officially cleared and that section of Highway One near Lucia was opened today (7/18). This means that traffic from Nacimiento-Fergusson Road has access to the Big Sur coast as far north as the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. There still will be less car traffic but it won’t be as isolated as it has been for the past few weeks.