Salmon Creek Falls

Big Sur / Monterey County, California, USA

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 1.5
Salmon Creek Falls
Salmon Creek Falls is another one of those must-see waterfalls when we're out and about touring the Big Sur Coast.

Not only is this falls gushing with reliable flow, but it's over 100ft in height, and it has a memorable shape in that its main plunge consists of a pair of waterfalls that join together as they drop. Moreover, this is one of those free roadside waterfalls that either compel you to pull over and get a closer look (if you're headed south on Hwy 1) or compel you to pull over just to satisfy your curiosity as to why so many vehicles are parked here (if you're headed north on Hwy 1).

Julie and I swear that this waterfall has been increasing in popularity over the years because we could still remember when we're one of the only ones at the falls. But on our latest visit, it was crowded here with some people chilling out at the top of the falls, plenty of others rock scrambling to get that photo op in front of the falls, and the pullouts were completely full of cars.

Tree graffiti Maybe it has something to do with the fact that our latest visit was in late afternoon when the afternoon sun casted favorable backlighting on the falls. However, in the morning (when we had visited the falls in each of our previous visits), it may be quieter but you could be looking directly against the sun (very bad for photos). Consider it one of those tradeoffs where it's especially hard to get that perfect picture postcard moment without the crowds and with good lighting. It's kind of like that saying that you're trying to have your cake and eat it too!

Another consequence of the increasing popularity of the falls is that we did notice some juvenile tree graffiti near the falls (something we didn't notice before; though they're mostly of the tree carving vandalism variety).

I don't know if it's legal to camp here, but the first two times we've scrambled to the waterfall (in separate years), we've seen people pitch tents and camp here. So you might find yourself tip-toeing (as we had to) past these folks as you get closer to the falls in the morning.

The scramble to the falls began on the south side of the bridge at the hairpin turn curving right before the gulch that contained the Salmon Creek Falls. From there, a fairly obvious use trail led closer to the falls after about 5 to 10 minutes of walking. We had to be cognizant of the poison oak flanking the trail as they were everywhere!

In order to get that frontal view you see pictured at the top of this page, we had to take a fairly obvious scrambling path to the gushing Salmon Creek. However, the main trail looked like it kept going, and I'd imagine that was how we saw people get right up to the top of the falls, and even find a little nook beneath some giant rocks right in between the tops of both merging waterfalls! We didn't go all the way up there so we can't really say how the trail was like going up that way.

Directions: To get to Salmon Creek Falls, look for a big hairpin turn just going over the bridge above Salmon Creek with a fair-sized car park on the north side of the bridge about 6 miles north of Ragged Point and 19 miles south of Limekiln State Park.

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More contextual view of Salmon Creek Falls
During the curvy drive up Hwy 1 to Salmon Creek Falls, there were plenty of spots to pull over and admire the rugged coastline of Big Sur
Parked cars filled up the pullout at the fallsParked cars filled up the pullout at the falls

Salmon Creek Falls is visible from Hwy 1 when headed southSalmon Creek Falls is visible from Hwy 1 when headed south

Poison oak flanking the trailPoison oak flanking the trail

The merging of two waterfallsThe merging of two waterfalls

Some people managed to climb up to the top of the fallsSome people managed to climb up to the top of the falls

How the falls looked in 2001How the falls looked in 2001

Closeup of the main plunge of Salmon Creek Falls in 2003Closeup of the main plunge of the falls in 2003

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Fixated on the falls from a viewpoint that required a bit of scrambling to get to

Classic old-school video of the falls in Big Sur

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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