Big Sur’s Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Severely Damaged

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One of California’s most popular roadside attractions, the state park that houses it has remained closed for over a week after a powerful storm hit the area.

Park officials believe the Instagram-famous Overlook Trail is off Highway 1 in Big Sur’s Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. A short loop leads to spectacular views of McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that plunges into the Pacific Ocean.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns and 20 other California state parks were closed after heavy rains due to “storm damage and hazardous conditions”. Another 39 are still partially closed.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will reopen to visitors once the Overlook Trail is removed, but not all parks are accessible. “Recent storms have done quite a bit of damage to the trail system there,” Marcos Ortega, superintendent of California State Parks’ Big Sur Sector, told SFGATE.

Other damage includes a sequoia tree that collided with a 70-foot bridge on the Pfeiffer Falls Trail. The famous Tambark his trail suffered “huge damage” and the crew found “dozens of fallen trees” while assessing storm losses, Ortega said. The short Parton Cove Trail, a dirt wagon path that starts at a fork in Highway 1, also saw a few trees fall in a series of recent California storms.

Because of the damage, Ortega said Tunbark and Parton Cove, which pass the Tin House landmark, will be at least “months” from reopening.

Other parts of Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park are still recovering from the 2020 Doran fire, which swept through much of Big Sur and burned down nearly 130,000 acres.

One of the problems facing park staff is the lack of adequate mobility.

After widespread damage across California state park grounds earlier this month, many parks are vying for the same heavy-duty machines to help hoist trees, cut giant logs and clear landslides.

“These are high-priority projects and we want to address them all as soon as possible,” explained Ortega. “We’ve been hit hard at other parks. Sometimes it’s personnel and certain equipment issues that need to be brought in to address this issue.”

“With so much going on statewide, availability is very minimal,” he added.

Then there’s the inherent problem that Ortega’s crew is dealing with.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns’ coastal location has always been special, but the vast stretch of Highway 1 leading into the park from the south is still closed to traffic due to falling rocks. Therefore, whatever equipment comes along, it will not be very fast. “Any kind of traffic has to be diverted, which causes significant delays,” Ortega explained.

The closure of Highway 1 also completely cut off Lime Kiln State Park, south of Julia Pfeiffer Burns, making it what Ortega calls “an island now.”

Once Julia Pfeiffer Burns reopens, visitors can approach the park from the north on Highway 1 or, if traveling from the Central Coast, use Highway 101 and Route 68 through Monterey to access the park.

Compounding the problem for future hikers and campers, “in response to extreme winter storms that brought severe rains and winds,” some parts of the nearby Los Padres National Forest are now closed. that it is closed. The order is expected to be lifted once conditions improve, but officials said it would “probably take weeks” to get a full picture of the storm’s damage across his 1.75 million acres of forest. says.

For the rest of the California State Parks system, park officials Wednesday said they were “assessing damage in an ongoing manner, taking into account the effects of sea levels and recognizing what is needed to attempt recovery.” We are making sure that: rising and climate change as we look to the future.”


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