Posted by: Stan Russell | March 2, 2017

Regarding a foot trail around Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge


Today at 0930 we met with California Parks, Monterey District Supervisor, Brent Marshall, and John Hiles, in charge of Parks trail work and planning for the emergency trail. Present were myself, Big Sur Fire Chief, Martha Karstens, Kate Daniels representing Mary Adams, Monterey 5th District Supervisor, and representatives from State Senator Bill Monning.

The topic was planning for the creation of a viable foot trail between the south extent of the failing bridge and a point in the park that would allow safe foot traffic access for locals and essential personnel to maintain the sustainability of the community to the greatest degree possible under the emergency circumstances.

State Park management has made the following arrangements to support the plan. They have:

1. Obtained a permit to allow the construction of a trail as described

2. Established funding sufficient to provide the labor and materials needed to construct the trail

3. Crafted a contract with the California Conservation Corps to do the work, starting at their earliest opportunity, which at present is March 15, 2017

4. Estimated work to take 5 weeks, once started, which translates to completion on or about May 3, 2017. We have agreed that this is not an acceptable target date.

5. Agreed to support the formation of a volunteer crew to assist with the work under the sponsorship of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, and this crew can be put to work under Parks supervision starting Monday AM, 3/6/17

While Parks has done an excellent job of bending their normal process to help support the emergency, we are concerned that the time line is too long to be the total solution we need for the residents and businesses. We are pursuing alternate versions of the plan to support the Parks in their legal and liability needs and to provide a more rapid resolution of the access crisis we are experiencing as the days mount up.

Chief Karstens will be the contact person for the formation of a work detail from the community and we will continue to work closely with Parks to augment their resources and logistics to help accelerate the time line and take the pressure off those who are suffering the greatest now and into the near term before the other access plans can be implemented

We now have substantial support from our political leadership at all levels of government and hope to provide the means and motivation to help Parks accelerate their plan to strategy the work and complete it as soon as possible.

Frank Pinney

Chief Emeritus



  1. Hi, I am sorry to see the problems Big Sur is having. I hope the community gets all the help it needs and a temporary route through soon. I did see a post recently suggesting that it might be possible to bypass the bridge by using the existing roads and tracks to the South and West of the bridge. Negotiations with private landowners were mentioned. I have looked quickly on Google Maps and it does look as if there is a possible route if permission could be obtained, it looks as if it would involve several miles on small roads and tracks. If a walking/cycling/off road track could be agreed with local landowners over existing tracks, this would help to get some traffic through, and possibly allow some tourists through once the slides are cleared. Anyway, no doubt someone is already looking at this possibility. Once again, good luck, I was planning to cycle down there in April and I am still hoping for a miracle!
    London UK

    • Hello Peter, At this time there is no alternative route or trail around Pfeiffer Canyon bridge. If one does get approved and built we will publish it here. Stay tuned!

  2. I am a US local, helping (non commercial, strictly as a friend) a group of 16 people from New Zealand that have booked flights and are planning on cycling through southbound on May 18. Any word on a bypass, via a foot path or alternate approaches that allows cyclists to get through will be very welcome. I had previously planned on having a group meal stop at Nepenthe.

    Thanks for your hard work to get this alternate path set up. I am certain there are other cycling, hiking, etc groups planning tourism and travel in this area, and having a non-automotive path to get through will be a great help.

    Thanks in advance, good luck to all volunteers. If there is a way to help from afar for this effort, eg donations, please do not hesitate to publicize it.

    • Hello Mario, When and if the trail is approved and built we will publish it here. Until then, stay tuned.

      • Thank you for the unexpectedly swift response. I adore that area, hence my desire to share it with my Kiwi friends.

        Again, thank you and all like minded people like you in the community who are sharing what they know for the benefit of the rest of us. Again, please do not hesitate to let us know how to help regain access, whether it is driving up to help via on the ground volunteer work on designated days, or pitching in remotely (eg, Starbucks coffee donations).

      • You’re welcome!

  3. To add to the prior note:
    Looking on a map, southbound toward the bridge, it appears there is a potential detour using a right onto Sycamore Canyon Road, a left onto Pias Ranch Road. At the east end of the paved segment of Pias Ranch Road, there appears to be a short dirt road to the right of the structure (a house?) leading to another paved road. This road does not appear to have a name but it goes past several driveways and comes out just south of the bridge, between the bridge and the Big Sur Chamber of commerce. Alternatively, instead of rejoining Highway 1 at this point, there is a right turn off the unnamed road to a road that leads to the Post Ranch Inn.

    Are these the alternate paths being discussed?

  4. Would I be able to cycle through the Pias Ranch Rd? I heard that the road is private and gated at the entrance from the Sycamore Canyon Rd.

    • No. That is a private road/driveway.

  5. I see, thank you for the info.

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