Big Sur Highway News

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 is anticipated to take until possibly well into 2018) portions of the highway are likely to remain closed to through traffic. This will impact both our Hiking: Big Sur Ecotour, as well as any biking itinerary that comes down that stretch of coast. We have also been offering shuttles around the affected area to independent cyclists. See below for details.

9/5/2017 update: Highway One is currently closed at two places: bridge at Pfeiffer Canyon at PM 45.50 (projected re-opening sometime in October 2017) and at Mud Creek at PM 8.88 (no projected re-opening date yet - probably won't open until well into 2018). Paul's Slide at PM 22.00 is currently open but with one way traffic control.

Just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the bridge at Pfeiffer Canyon (PM 45.50) was critically damaged. The bridge has been demolished and is in the process of being completely rebuilt. Estimated completion is sometime in October 2017. A footpath has been constructed around the construction site, and it is feasible to walk/carry bikes on it, but there is no similar bypass around Mud Creek. The driving/shuttle detour around the bridge (coming from the north) involves a lengthy backtrack (3.5-4 hours drive time) all the way to the Monterey Peninsula, out to US 101 and south to Highway 46, and back to the coast.

Mud Creek (PM 8.88) has been a problem all winter and spring and in mid May there was a massive landslide there. The highway is closed there with no scheduled re-opening date as of now. The clean up and repair of the road there will most likely take at least the rest of 2017 and most likely well into 2018. The sections below detail how the closures will affect our tours.

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

9/5/2017 update: We are currently able to run the regular version of the Big Sur Ecotour, but only for clients staying at Treebones due to the current highway closures.

Once Pfeiffer Canyon bridge is open, we will be able run tours as we normally do, but only for clients staying on the Big Sur coast north of Gorda and/or in the Monterey/Carmel area. The bridge closure is expected to re-open sometime in October.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.


Bike Tour Impacts

9/5/2017 update: Both the closure at Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PM 45.50) and at Mud Creek (PM 8.88) will impact any of our multi-day bike tours (both guided and self-guided) that come down the Big Sur coast until the bridge is rebuilt (sometime in October 2017) and the slide at Mud Creek is cleared away and the highway repaired (no projected date - probably sometime in mid 2018). One thing for sure, there will be less traffic for the foreseeable future on Highway One compared to what we normally see!

At Pfeiffer Canyon, there is a trail around the bridge closure that is open to the public and it is feasible to push/carry your bike on this trail. The trail is a bit less than one mile and has a 600 foot elevation gain. There are several staircase sections, but Central Coast Outdoors owner John Flaherty was able to push and carry his bike (no panniers) on the trail without problems recently. If you have loaded panniers you may need to make two trips.

For our guided and self guided bike tours until the bridge re-opens (sometime in October 2017), you have some options. You can use the trail to bypass the bridge and then continue to cycle down Highway One as far as Gorda, which is where the highway is closed for the Mud Creek landslide. We would then shuttle you to around from Gorda to Ragged Point or Salmon Creek (3-3.5 hours drive time including many miles on a twisty winding mountain road) to continue your tour. You'd miss about 10-15 miles of cycling on Highway One. For self guided tours there will be an extra fee for this shuttle as we have to come back out again to do this. Please inquire as to what the extra fee would be for your self guided group. Note that for our guided tours, the section from the south side of the bridge closure to Gorda might be unsupported due to the lengthy drive around time for the support vehicle.

The other option is to not push/carry your bike around the bridge closure and just shuttle from the town of Big Sur around to Ragged Point/Salmon Creek. You'd ride to the town of Big Sur (just north of the bridge closure), then shuttle up to 3.5-4 hours on a detour back north to the Monterey/Carmel area then east to US 101 and south to Highway 46 to get you back to the coast at Ragged Point/Salmon Creek. You miss about 45-50 miles of Highway One with this shuttle. For self guided tours there will be an extra fee for this shuttle as we have to come back out again to do this. Please inquire as to what the extra fee would be for your self guided group.

Once Pfeiffer Canyon bridge is open (projected date sometime in October 2017), Mud Creek will still be closed. If this is the case, you will most likely be able to ride to Gorda on the Big Sur coast and then we will shuttle you around the closure via Nacimiento Fergusson Road (a twisting winding mountain road), US 101, Hwy 46 and then back north on Hwy 1 to Ragged Point/Salmon Creek, where you will resume cycling. You'll miss only about 10-15 miles of cycling on Hwy 1, but the shuttle can take 3-3.5 hours.

Independent cyclists can also get a shuttle around the affected areas on the Big Sur coast from us. Advance reservations are required and are subject to availability. Best to call us directly to see if we are available. Cost is $320 flat rate for our Prius and driver (capacity 1-3 cyclists) and $600 flat rate for our van and driver (capacity 1-11 cyclists) and is a private charter. Note that one or both of our vehicles may not be available on the date or dates you are looking for or if you are smaller group and we only have our larger vehicle available we will need to charge for the larger vehicle. If you can coordinate with other cycling groups needing the same service at the same time, you may be able to spread the cost over more people. Currently this assumes you will walk around the Pfeiffer Canyon bridge closure and meet us at or near Gorda. Plaskett Creek Campground has hike/bike sites and is just a few miles north of the closure at Gorda and we can meet you there. We will shuttle you around to Ragged Point, Salmon Creek or the Cambria/San Simeon area. Total shuttle time is 3-3.5 hours and you miss 10-15 miles of cycling on Hwy 1 if you shuttle to Ragged Point/Salmon Creek. You miss an additional 20 miles of cycling on Hwy 1 if you shuttle to Cambria/San Simeon. As an added bonus if you book a shuttle around the Mud Creek slide with us, we'll send you links to detailed maps and directions for each section our entire SF to LA route.

Please don't wait until the last minute to arrange this as we may not be available on short notice!


Cycling Detour Around Mud Creek Slide

While there is a cycling detour around the Mud Creek slide closure, it is rather lengthy, contains a lot of climbing (including a 7 mile climb with about 2500 feet of elevation gain and grades up to 11%), goes through areas with minimal services and has summer and early fall temperatures that can easily exceed 100 degrees.

Below is a link to one example of the detour. Note that once you climb and descend on Nacimiento Fergusson Road, there are several ways to eventually make it back to Hwy 46 and then to Hwy 1 just south of Cambria (all of which are hilly). Furthermore, there is no way to avoid the big climb on Nacimiento Fergusson Road. Services (including places to get water) are very sparse on the detour. Nacimiento Fergusson Road also crosses through a military area and is subject to closure if there are military excercises (but that is rare). There are two small National Forest Service campgrounds on Nacimiento Fergusson Road. There are campgrounds at Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento as well. Paso Robles has RV parks and hotels.

The detour is a little less than 100 miles and you miss about 50 miles of some of the most scenic part of Hwy 1 (unless you back track at the start and end of the detour). Budget at least one extra day of riding overall compared to just going straight down Hwy 1 (perhaps two days riding the detour, but missing one full day on the coast - assumes riding about 50 miles per day).

Note that some cyclists have told us they have mapped out routes that use dirt roads in the Plaskett Creek/Gorda/Ragged Point area. Beware such routes. We are not aware of any bypass like this that one could feasibly do on a regular bike loaded with gear. Some of the routes we have been told about are actually on backpack hiking trails, and not very easy trails either!

Here are some good resources for current updates:

Big Sur Blog

Big Sur Kate