Andrew Molera State Park
Gateway to the Big Sur Valley
Located on the site of a dairy ranch, Molera State Park is the largest park in Big Sur. The ridge that defines the western side of the Big Sur Valley begins to rise from the coastal plain within the park. West of the ridge are chaparral-covered coastal hills; east are the woods and grasslands of the Big Sur Valley. Most of the trails in this park don't have the wildness and rugged mountain character that typifies Big Sur, with the notable exception of the East Molera Trail, a steep hill climb that's very typical of Big Sur.
Molera isn't really a redwood park, since it only has a few tiny, scattered groves of redwoods (shown in dark green on the map above), and the groves aren't as scenic as the redwoods in other Big Sur parks. However, if you drive south on Highway One, just as you're entering the Big Sur Valley you'll see a few conspicuous groves of redwoods, the first really noticable redwoods in the area and a sure sign that you've entered the heart of the Big Sur region. These redwoods, and a few other groves like them, are part of Andrew Molera State Park.
Two beaches, reached by easy walks of at least a mile, are the park's most popular destinations. Horseback tours are also offered and some of the trails, particularly the Bobcat and Creamery Meadow Trails, are heavily strewn with horse manure.
Molera has the most poison oak of any Big Sur park. The plant grows in tall, dense bushes that in places have been cut into vertical walls that border the trails. Many trails, particularly the Hidden, South Boundary, and Panorama Trails, can get completely overgrown with poison oak. Small poison oak plants are often hidden in the chaparral by the side of the trail and may sprout in the middle of the trail. The trail crews come through about once a year and remove all traces of poison oak, which makes hiking a lot more pleasant.
Old-growth redwood hikes
There are no old-growth redwood hikes in the park.
** The Ridge, Panorama, and Bluffs Loop (7.5 miles; 1300 feet)
** The East Molera Trail (3.2 miles; 1390 feet)
* The River Trail (4.1 miles; 140 feet)
© 2006 David Baselt