Wow! When you find yourself in the Big Sur area, with the weather nice and you’re looking to get out for a great hike look no further than Creamery Ridge Loop Trail! This hike features 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean throughout most of the trail, provides opportunities to check out a couple of remote beaches, forces you to take your boots off to cross a river, and takes you through a mature forest of Oak and Redwoods. Sorry, no waterfalls.
Assuming you choose to hike the full Loop which is accomplished by taking the Ridge Trail to the Bluff Trail, it’s about an 8-9 mile hike with 1500 feet of elevation gain. That said, it’s tough to not check out one or more of the beaches along the way which will push your mileage for the day up to about 10. I would rate the difficulty of the hike just a bit above “moderate”, as although there are no technical sections of the trail and most of it is wide and well worn, there are 1500 feet of elevation to deal with which occurs pretty much all in just two places of the trail. So, for most, I’m pretty sure 8 miles and 1500 feet of elevation gain will get your heart “thumpin” and your body sweating while offering ample time to catch your breath and take in the Pacific. Hiking the full loop trail (Bluff to Ridge) took my wife and I approximately 3-4 hours to complete, with just a bit of stopping along the way to take in the views.
To get there, take Highway 1 south from Carmel, CA. You’ll be looking for Andrew Molera State Park, which is where the trailhead is. This is about 30 minutes south of the Carmel Highlands. Once getting to Andrew Molera State Park, you can either park on the highway for free, or pay $10 to park in the parking lot. You’ll be looking for the Creamery Meadow Trail Head.
From the Meadow Trail you’ll jump off to the Bluff or Ridge Trail, which together form a loop so you can go either way. I would suggest starting up the Ridge Trail and returning on the Bluff Trail. You’ll be sucking wind and cursing my name for the first hour of the hike, but once to the top, you’ll have about a two hour hike with the best view of the Pacific Ocean in front of you that you’re probably ever going to get! Final words of suggestion… bring water, a small towel, and, at a minimum, a change of pants, as you’ll need to cross the Big Sur river both at the beginning and end of the hike (it’s a simple & fun crossing). Also, bring sunscreen as there is not much shade on the Bluff trail. That’s it. Happy Trails!