Take a road trip with us along the rugged California coastline. Fly among groves of coastal Redwoods and iconic stone bridges that span the distance between vast canyons. Watch waterfalls crash on the shores of the wild Pacific Ocean.
Freeman's Collective is a modern artist and craftsmen commune emphasizing active lifestyles and adventure travel through leatherwork, camp goods, and California crafted apparel. A portion of our proceeds are donated to the National Parks Foundation each year to keep our wilderness areas pristine for future generations. Our mantra is simple: Every adventure begins with one first step. #StepSwiftly
Song Jose Gonzalez - Step Out (Chainsmokers Remix)
The Big South.
Big Sur rises out of the depths of the wild Pacific Ocean as the Santa Lucia mountain range stands sentinel over the jagged landscape. Giant groves of Pacific Coastal Redwoods reach out tirelessly to the haze-filled skyline as plumes of fog and seasmoke roll into the valleys, creating pockets of micro-climates that are home to legions of native flora and fauna. At any time on a hike you may run into deer, coyotes, or California Condors, America’s largest species of bird. It’s a backpackers paradise and we’re going to highlight some of our favorite spots along the famous California coastline. Lets start from the southern area and work our way north.
Cambria/San Simeon is the start of Big Sur and one of most beautiful places to stop before beginning the journey into the undeveloped highlands. When you stop, you’ll discover a preserved portion of old California dating back to the turn of the century. If you get a chance, turn-off the highway and head to Hearst Castle, the palace of California’s first billionaire, William Randolph Hearst. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a herd of zebra, remnants of the many wild and exotic animals he brought to live at his ocean ranch on the mountain top. Once you’ve seen the grandeur architecture and read the history of the Californian tycoon, head north to the Elephant Seal Vista.
These giant beasts of the sea haul up on the sand and bathe in the sunlight. Some of them reaching epic weights up to 6,600 lbs. The seal colony is one of many in the area, as you drive along Highway 1, you may notice the animals peppered along the sandy beaches.
Tip: Bring a zoom lens to get a close look at the seals from the viewpoint.
Salmon Creek empties out to the Pacific in the south of Big Sur. Continue on your journey and you’ll reach the first destination for a short hike to Salmon Creek Falls. It’s an easy trek from the trailhead. Park your car just off the highway on the shoulder, the ranger station is just around the turn in the canyon. You’ll see the sign for the trailhead next to the highway at the beginning of the curve. Once on it, follow the path as it winds under old growth Oak Trees and look for signs marking the waterfall. After walking about half a mile, you’ll find a beautiful 120ft ribbon of water plunging into a dark lagoon. Shade yourself from the sun on the trail with our Westcoast Wanderlust Trucker Hat. It’s built with a mesh back lining for breathability and our Wanderbird totem design.
Tip: Go during the off-season or winter. It might be colder, but it means less people and a higher chance that the waterfall will be at max flow. Return to your car the same way you came in and remember, pack out what you pack in, no likes to find trash when they hike. Head north to the next location.
Sand Dollar Beachstretches out under towering cliffs as pounding waves defiantly challenge surfers on the shoreline. The largest sand beach in the Big Sur region isn’t visible from the highway. Look for signs and park in the day-use area before embarking on another quick hike into the state park.
A great place to have lunch or take pictures, you can take a trail to the edge of the cliffs (be careful of unstable soil) or find the wooden staircase that leads to the beach below. If you’re feeling adventurous, bring a surfboard and a thick wetsuit to take on the sets as they roll into the cove.
McWay Falls renders all other sights a far second. If you visit at sunset, which we highly recommend, you’ll catch the falls at magic hour. A rare “tidefall” in California to break onto a beach, McWay Falls is one of the crown jewels of the Big Sur coastline. Look closely and you may even catch a glimpse of a Sea Otter in the nearby nature reserve. Our Big Sur Blanket was inspired by the beauty of this place. Grab one for your trip here or find one at freemanscollective.com.
Andrew Molera State Beach is where the Big Sur River flows to the sea. There’s a large campground with firepits and beach access via trails. Be warned, you’ll have to ford across the Big Sur River on two of the trails so bring the proper shoes and equipment. The sprawling beach is also a famous surf spot and there’s a point break when a good swell comes in. Take our Wanderbird Blanket with you when you visit the beach then throw on the sand to relax and take in the view.
If you’re an avid hiker and want a longer trek, the Panorama Ridge trail is a beautiful 9-mile loop that will take you the entire circumference of the oceanside of the park. You’ll start near the campground or park entrance and walk up alongside the rolling hills. As you push onward, enjoy White Oak groves and Sagebrush throughout the trail.
Tip: Head to Molera Point to view a stunning vista of the park and Pico Blanco, the highest point in Big Sur.
Bixby Canyon Bridge stands as a mammoth work of stone and iron. A relic from generations past, the bridge was completed in 1932 and connected the residents of Big Sur to northern Monterey county, which was impassible during the winter months on the Old Coast Road. It’s still one of the most photographed locations in all of Big Sur.
If you’d like to learn more about Big Sur, visit the Freeman’s Collective page here and read through our Road Trips Guide for the area. You can also visit our Big Sur Collection for a curated selection of apparel and accessories inspired by the rugged aesthetic of California’s Central coast.
Aris A. Ford - Founder, Freeman's Collective.
Every adventure begins with one first step. #StepSwiftly