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McWay Falls

Walk to this pretty waterfall, stand at viewpoints with superb coastal views and spot varied wildlife in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

McWay Falls is a picturesque waterfall that cascades directly from a cliff onto the sandy shore of McWay Beach. It stands about 80 feet (24 meters) tall in the heart of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. McWay Falls originally flowed straight into the Pacific Ocean but a landslide in 1983 dropped rocks into the water and thus created the beach. The falls’ water supply comes from McWay Creek, which runs down from the framing mountains.

Enjoy views of the waterfall and dramatic coastline from the lookout points scattered along a series of walking trails. Follow the Waterfall Overlook Trail around the cliffs above McWay Cove to a waterfall-facing viewpoint. Watch as the water spills out of a rock face and splashes onto the isolated and inaccessible beach.

Continue to the end of the trail. From here view the remains of a one-time residence now called Waterfall House. Find interpretive panels with information and historical facts about the house. One panel has photos of the waterfalls’ appearance prior to the landslide.

Sit on one of the benches and gaze out over the Pacific Ocean’s deep blue water. Between December and April, it’s often possible to see migrating gray whales. Spot sea otters, seals and birds such as oystercatchers and pelicans.

Return to the start of the trail, where it connects with inland hiking paths. Take the 5-mile-long (8-kilometer) Ewoldsen Trail through a redwood forest to a scenic picnic area. Walk the short Canyon Trails to Canyon Falls. Visit the Penton Wheel House, a power plant that once supplied energy to the old houses and blacksmith workshop in the area.

Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls is just a 25-minute drive from Big Sur Village. Parking is available at the trailheads with a per-car admission fee. The park and trails are open from sunrise to sunset. You can also park for free on Highway One, although spaces are limited, and access the trails without charge.


Top McWay Falls Hotel Deals

See all 448 Properties near McWay Falls
Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only RM5,714
Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only

Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort - Adults Only

     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated by the ocean, this luxury resort is within 1 mile (2 km) of Big Sur Spirit Garden and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Big Sur Station is 2 mi (3.2 km) away.

    Big Sur Lodge RM1,034
    Big Sur Lodge

    Big Sur Lodge

       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated near the beach, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Big Sur Station and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Big Sur Spirit Garden and Andrew Molera State Park are also within 3 miles (5 km).

      Blue Sky Lodge RM445
      Blue Sky Lodge

      Blue Sky Lodge

         
        2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in the mountains, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Bernardus Winery Tasting Room, Boekenoogen Winery Tasting Room and Chock Rock Vineyard Tasting Room. Joullian Vineyards and Talbotts Vineyards are also within 10 minutes.

        Contenta Inn RM494
        Contenta Inn

        Contenta Inn

           
          2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in the shopping district, this motel is within a 10-minute walk of Bernardus Winery Tasting Room, Boekenoogen Winery Tasting Room and Chock Rock Vineyard Tasting Room. Joullian Vineyards and Talbotts Vineyards are also within 10 minutes.

          Carmel Mission Inn RM494
          Carmel Mission Inn

          Carmel Mission Inn

             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of The Barnyard and Carmel Mission Basilica. Carmel Beach and 17-Mile Drive are also within 3 miles (5 km).