I've been on a bunch of low mileage BikePacking trips lately and I really wanted to do a trip that would push me both physically and mentally. Since I am currently working in Santa Cruz it made sense to point my wheels South for a weekend and pedal out to Big Sur. Big Sur is on most peoples bucket list and what better way to get there then by bike! Due to an extreme heatwave in the Central Coast I decided to hit the road before the sun came up. My goal was to get to Monterey which is 50 miles from Santa Cruz before noon. From Monterey it would be about another 40 miles to my campsite at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Most of if not all of my BikePacking trips from Santa Cruz start at Verve Coffee Roasters on Bronson st. They open at 6am, make good coffee and stock some killer Morning Buns from Kelly's French Bakery. (I highly recommend that you add Verve to your Bike Touring plan when in Santa Cruz. Also look into Kelly's French Bakery which can be found on the West Side right off the 1 as you enter Santa Cruz.)The sun begun to rise as I pedaled through Capitola. I wouldn't see the ocean again until I got into Monterey.
- Capitola sits on the northeast shore of Monterey Bay. Steep cliffs mark access to several popular beaches, including New Brighton Beach, or drop directly to the rocky shoreline of the bay. Downtown Capitola sits in a depression among the cliffs so that the popular tourist and shopping area leads directly to Capitola Beach. - Sea Cliff State Beach is an incredible place to watch the sunrise.
After weaving my way through the miles of farm land in Watsonville I reached Moss Landing. Please note that in and around Moss Landing was home to some of the worst part of Highway 1 on this trip. Fast cars. Big Cars. Trucks. Very little patience for the touring cyclist.
- Moss Landing was originally called Moss. - Moss Landing is located on the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad, 15 miles north-northeast of Monterey, at an elevation of 10 feet. It is located on the shore of Monterey Bay, at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, and at the head of the Monterey Canyon. - Moss Landing provides access to state and federal protected lands, including surfing destination Moss Landing State Beach, Salinas River State Beach, Zmudowski State Beach, Moss Landing Wildlife Area, and the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Soon after Moss Landing I found myself in Castroville where I hopped onto the Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Path. The path took me roughly 29 miles down through Monterey and ending at Pebble Beach. For the most part the Path hugs the highway and city streets. In Marina there is an option to make a slight detour and ride a parallel path that runs along the Fort Ord Dunes. I highly recommend you take this detour.
Pedaling into Monterey I found myself in the heart of Cannery Row which was littered with little shops and places to eat. I made my personal goal and got there around 11am. Monterey was already packed with tourists enjoying the beautiful weather. It was pretty awesome to be enjoying it all from the safety of the Bike Path.
The great thing about the Monterey Bay Costal Bike Path is it takes you right through Downtown Monterey. My buddy @itsadadslife recommended that I grabbed a sandwich at the Cannery Row Delicatessen. Life is rad sometimes and I ended up running into him with his son. Small world.
I opted to eat the sandwich by the Pacific Ocean.When in Monterey you must opt for 17 Mile Drive into Carmel.
- 17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses, mansions and scenic attractions, including the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock and the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees.
I just happened to be pedaling down the Central Coast during a crazy heat wave. Temperatures were in the upper 90's and as I reached Carmel I couldn't resist jumping in the ocean. I'd never seen the Pacfic Ocean like this before. The water was crystal clear and actually warm (like tropical warm)! Amazing!
From Carmel I just had a little over 30 miles to reach my camping location in Big Sur. The stretch of Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur is incredible. The views are breathtaking and the cars on the road for the most part were much more patient.
This is where Day One ends. After 94 miles I arrived at camp in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I forgot to take pictures at this point. I was just too excited to crack open a beer and set up camp.
- The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers a Hiker / Biker camp that costs $6. - The Hiker / Biker site is located right next to the Showers and Bathrooms. Showers cost $1 for every five minutes. The token machine takes dollars and not coins. - The camp store sells snacks and beers. - You can download the The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park brochure here.
Day Two I woke up before the sun and fired up my Snowpeak LiteMax Stove. I love making coffee in darkness. Theres something special about sitting in the stillness of morning and watching that blue flame roar. By the time I was all packed up and ready to roll my fellow Hiker / Bikers were just waking up. I said my goodbyes to the few people I met the day before and pedaled into the rising sun.
The sun rising on the Central Coast was a sight to behold. I knew I had a big day ahead of me but I decided to start off slow and take advantage of all the mornings treasures.
Highlights and Lessons Learned :
- My homemade Energy Burritos are next level. So next level I call them Energy Burritos! Hahaha! Brown Rice, Eggs and a touch of Bacon. All wrapped up in a toasted Tortilla. I make them small and bring two to much after the first hour of cycling. Real food. Tested. Perfect for BikePacking and Bike Touring. - Watsonville in the early morning is a sight to be seen. It's very humbling to see how are produce is being grown and how much human labor it takes to pick all those strawberries. - Bike bags are the only way to do an over nighter ATMO. - The Coast is absolutely incredible when you get down to Monterey. - 17 mile drive is a worthy detour. It's 30 miles from Pebble Beach to Pfeiffer. - Andrew Molera State Park is a good place to top off your water bottles before you make the haul into Pfeiffer or Kirk Creek. Andrew Molera does not have Hiker / Biker sites. Pfeiffer is just 4.4 miles away from Andrew Molera.
Total Miles : 181.1 miles in two days. Total Elevation : 7523 ft of climbing (easy easy easy)
Check out my route below and hit me with any questions you may have when planning your trip down to Big Sur!