Big Sur Highway 2017
General Information - PLEASE READ
Due to heavy rains over the winter 2016-17, many sections of Highway One down the Big Sur coast were heavily damaged. During the repair phase (which may take as long as the rest of 2017) portions of the highway are likely to remain closed to through traffic, and this will impact both our Hiking: Big Sur Ecotour, as well as any biking itinerary that comes down that stretch of coast.
The most critical part of the highway that was damaged is the bridge at Pfeiffer Canyon (PM 45.50), just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The bridge has been condemned (no one is allowed to cross it) and will need to be completely rebuilt. This process could take the rest of 2017 and there is currently no feasible way to construct a temporary bridge that would allow vehicles to bypass the current bridge and safely pass over Pfeiffer Canyon. The detour around the bridge (coming from the north) involves a lengthy backtrack all the way to the Monterey Peninsula, out to US 101 and south to either Nacimiento Fergusson Road or Highway 46, and back to the coast.
There have been numerous landslides and places on Highway One on the Big Sur coast south of Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge where parts of the highway or shoulder have collapsed as well. Some of these will certainly be cleaned up soon, but other places may take well into the spring or summer to clean up.
The sections below detail how the closures will affect our tours. Please see the Recent Update section below for the latest news on how the clean up process is going.
NOTE ON MILEAGE MARKERS: The mileage markers (PM) are for Monterey County, unless otherwise noted. They count up going north from the Monterey / San Luis Obispo (SLO) County line, which is just north of the Ragged Point Inn, which is in far northern SLO County. The Ragged Point Inn is the only point usually referenced that is in SLO County. You can also think of Ragged Point Inn as essentially PM 0.00. For an excellent series of maps with all locations and mileage markers, please use the link to Big Sur Kate blog.
Hiking: Big Sur Ecotour Impacts
The highway closure at Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PM 45.50) does not directly impact our ability to run the Hiking: Big Sur Ecotour as all the hike locations are south of the bridge and we drive up from the south to do the tour. It is the closures south of the hiking areas that will most directly impact this tour. In addition, if you are staying north of the closure at Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PM 45.50) you will be unable to drive directly down Highway One to meet us for the tour. It is possible to do a lengthy detour back out to US 101 to meet us if you are staying north of the bridge closure, but this means a drive of at least 2-4 hours each way.
Accommodations north of the bridge closure (no direct access to our hiking tour) include anything in the Monterey/Carmel area as well as Big Sur Lodge, Big Sur River Inn, Glenoaks, Fernwood Resort, Riverside Campground and Cabins, Ripplewood Resort and Big Sur Campground and Cabins.
Accommodations south of the bridge closure (will have access to our hiking tour if bridge closure is the only closure) include Post Ranch Inn, Ventana Inn, Deetjens Inn, Lucia Lodge, Treebones and Ragged Point Inn as well as any place in SLO County.
In order to run the tour as we normally do, the highway will need to be open to through traffic from Ragged Point Inn (SLO County PM 72.90 - just a few miles south of PM 0.00 for Monterey County) to at least Partington Cove (PM 37.85), and both Lime Kiln Sate Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park need to re-open. If the highway remains closed at Mud Creek (PM 8.88) we will be unable to access any of the hiking areas. If Mud Creek is passable but the highway is still closed at Paul's slide (PM 22.00), we will have access to Lime Kiln State Park, but not Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and it may be possible to do a modified version of the tour by doing extended hiking at Lime Kiln State Park and possibly working in Sand Dollar Cove as well.
Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.
Bike Tour Impacts
The closure at Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PM 45.50) will impact any of our multi-day bike tours (both guided and self-guided) until the bridge is rebuilt, which may not be accomplished until late 2017. There has been talk of a temporary foot trail and foot bridge across the canyon that would allow at least foot traffic over the closure, but details on that are still tentative, including the all important question of whether or not it will be OK to walk bikes across (we think probably yes, but don't know for sure). One thing for sure, there will be less traffic this season on Highway One compared to what we normally see!
Guided Bike Tours
For our guided bike tours, we will ride as far south as possible (probably right up to the bridge closure), then shuttle up to 3-4 hours on a detour back north to the Monterey/Carmel area then east to US 101 and south to either G14/Nacimiento Fergusson Road or Highway 46 to get you back to the coast. Any remaining highway closures will impact how we get back to the coast and where you will be able to start cycling again. This is a fluid situation and may change right up until the day of the tour that is affected. If the foot trail and foot bridge across Pfeiffer Canyon have been completed and bikes are allowed to be walked across this section and there are no other closures, you have the option of walking the bike(s) across the foot trail/bridge and continuing to cycle south while the support vehicle drives around on the detour (3-4 hours) and meets you some distance down the highway on the other side. Of course this means you will be without vehicle support for a certain portion of that day.
Self Guided Bike Tours
For our self guided tours, if a shuttle is required to get around the bridge closure and any other closures, we will be offering this. However, we will need to charge an extra fee to at least partially offset the added cost of the vehicle and staff time to do so. The extra fee will vary according to the number of people on the tour and if we anticipate any additional closures besides Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge as the location of other closures may impact the amount of time we will need to drive to perform the shuttle. Please contact us directly to see what the potential added coast might be for your tour.
Recent Update - March 17, 2017
Currently Highway One is closed to through traffic from Ragged Point Inn (SLO County PM 72.90 - just a few miles south of PM 0.00 for Monterey County) in the south all the way to Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PM 45.50) in the north. This encompasses much of the Big Sur coast, except the northern part from Carmel down to the town of Big Sur. The reconstruction of the bridge at Pfeiffer Canyon will take at least 6 months and the highway will be closed at that point during this time. A foot trail is being constructed to walk around the bridge closure, but is not open to the public yet. We have heard that the foot trail is pretty long and has major elevation gain/loss and so might be a challenge to walk or carry your bike along it once it is open. We plan to scout it out once it is open ot the public.
South of Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PM 45.50) the most serious highway damage is at Mud Creek (PM 8.88) and at Paul's Slide (PM 22.00). According to Caltrans, these will remain closed to the public at least through April and may re-open sometime in May, although it might even be June before both are fully open to the public.
Here are some good resources for even more current updates: