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8. Creamery Meadow, Bluffs, Panorama, and Ridge Trail Loop

A female hiker on a trail in Andrew Molera State Park, California.

Andrew Molera State Park is the best place to see what Big Sur is all about on a tight schedule.Winding through Andrew Molera State Park, this loop has it all: redwood, mountains, wildflower walks, river crossings, and unyielding views of the ocean throughout. Starting from the parking lot at the park entrance, approach the road you came in, take a right, and proceed on your way to the Creamery Meadow Trail, the first trail of the loop.

After wading the knee-deep, but freezing cold, Big Sur River, turn left on River Trail and follow the riparian zone along the Big Sur River, before taking a right to the Creamery Meadow Trail at the start of the Ridge Trail. It sounds complex, but it’s surprisingly intuitive. The Ridge Trail makes up the meat of the trip, and you should definitely aim to hike it in the springtime, when the poppies, lupines, monkeyflowers, and Indian paintbrushes are in full bloom.

About the author
Professional hiker and guidebook author

Liz Thomas is thru-hiker and guidebook author best known for breaking the women’s self-supported record on the Appalachian Trail. She’s the author of the National Outdoor Book Award winning Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike, which won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2017. When she’s not backpacking, Liz is a motivational speaker who has presented on Capitol Hill, corporate retreats, national non-profit donor events, and colleges and universities including Yale and MIT. You can find her at or @lizthomashiking
and Facebook.

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