This Popular Big Sur Hike Is Finally Open More Than 12 Years After It Went up in Flames
Thomas J. Story
A long-popular hike in Big Sur is finally open.

Twelve years after being incinerated, an immensely popular Big Sur hike is finally reopening to the public.

The breezy .75-mile jaunt known as the Pfeiffer Falls Trail, which meanders through a dense envelopment of redwoods before winding down a gorge and culminating with awe-inspiring views of a 60-foot waterfall, had been closed since 2008, when the Basin Complex Fire obliterated much of the trail and its infrastructure.

Now, after $2 million of renovations and years of work, hikers will once more be able to set foot on the iconic trail.

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“This trail is going to make a lot of people’s day,” Marcos Ortega, superintendent of California State Parks’ Big Sur cohort, told The Mercury News. “It’s kid-friendly. You get to see a waterfall. You’re in the redwoods. It gives you the full Big Sur experience.”

That experience has been enabled courtesy of collaborative efforts between organizations like the California Conservation Corps, Save the Redwoods League, the American Conservation Experience, and personnel from California’s state parks. In recent years, these partnerships yielded nearly 70,000 hours of work to reconstruct what had been destroyed in the inferno, The Mercury News reported.

The Basin Complex Fire relentlessly burned the Big Sur region for over a month beginning in June 2008, when thousands of lightning strikes ignited nearly 3,000 wildfires over a three-day span. By the middle of the following month, more than 800,000 acres across the state had been torched, including nearly 163,000 acres in Big Sur.

Efforts to recover the area began in earnest soon after, but were repeatedly derailed by issues pertaining to budgetary constraints, additional fires, and most recently, COVID-19.

“Everybody rallied around this project,” Jess Inwood, Save the Redwoods League senior parks program manager, told The Mercury News. “They saw the loss. They missed it. They wanted it to come back. It’s been a long journey, but worth the wait.”