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Big Sur: Bicycling, and other tips, for the Big Sur Coast

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If you’re inclined to bike Big Sur…

Please first take time to scroll down this post
till you see Jackson blowing his horn. Below him, read

“Tips for Bicycling the Big Sur Coast.”

Help protect beautiful Big Sur. Take the Big Sur Pledge:

Who bikes Big Sur?

Santa Cruz County residents Renee Chaffin and Sean Ardley did a bike-and-ride trip. When I saw them here, across from the Hawthorne Gallery, they were biking to Santa Lucia.

A visitor from Washington state, who I met on a blustery spring day.

WA cyclist on Big Sur Coast March 2014

Benefitting Easter Seals, these touring cyclists were biking the Big Sur Coast and beyond.

These patrons of the Big Sur River Inn restaurant were pleased to know about the discounts there on Thursdays for people who bike, or bike-and-ride, to their location. (The restaurant is the first Big Sur participant in the countywide HER Helmet Thursdays project.)

Big Sur River Inn restaurant patrons

Below: Bike-touring visitor Dennis finds that having the company of his faithful companion, Sally, can make long, isolated stretches of riding more enjoyable. To see others who bike with a dog in Monterey County, along with tips for dog-lovers here and  elsewhere; click here.Dennis and Sally cropped

Below: U.S. Marine Corps veteran Rob Jones biked the Big Sur Coast in March 2014 as part of his coast-to-coast journey. Rob biked America to raise funds for wounded vets.

Rob is pictured between Point Sur and Andrew Molera. You can’t tell by his smile, but–you’ve heard of March winds? Rob was biking Big Sur on a very blustery day.

NPS Foundation Cycling Club kept up with Rob from the Salinas River Wildlife Refuge to Bixby Bridge on the Big Sur Coast. Moi? I biked with Rob further south. Big Sur winds that day, the steep hills, and ultra-fit Rob’s condition, coupled with his e-assist, meant I only biked with him a very short way.

Rob Jones south of Point Sur north of Andrew Molera 3-31-14
Cruising a section of Highway 1, at a pace that makes it easy to stop and hug a redwood when its beauty overtakes you.

The local earth-care activist below, spotted in the Carmel Highlands, was headed south to bike a stretch of the Big Sur Coast. See Bicycling Monterey’s Bicycling and Ecotourism / Good Earthkeeping Right at Home for related info.

Caring for beautiful Big Sur

Caring for Big Sur includes making an effort to reduce motor vehicle traffic along the Big Sur Coast.

How? Consider whether you are able to carpool, or use a Monterey-Salinas Transit bus, or use other ridesharing options that may be available. For example, in 2011, Magnus Toren of the Henry Miller Library and Britt Govea of Folk Yeah teamed up with Zimride so ridesharing could happen to the Miller shows. See some details here, but for updated info, check in with the library or Zimride.

Whether you hike or bike or just sit and relax, being outside of a motor vehicle is the way to really get to know Big Sur.
Most people wouldn’t find biking on typically busy Highway 1 appropriate for them. Many instead enjoy a bike-and-ride, that is, using a personal vehicle, MST bus, etc on Hwy 1, then biking only on side roads (please, public roads only—respect private property).
Help keep the home of these Big Sur lassies beautiful.

Reminder: The Big Sur River Inn restaurant is a participant in the HER Helmet Thursdays project. The restaurant is a historic and popular Monterey County spot.

Below: Jackson Stock—son and former band mate of the late Jake Stock of the legendary Abalone Stompers—was playing at the Big Sur River Inn restaurant as part of their Sunday Music at the River series when I snapped this photo on May 22, 2011. Jackson was happy to toot his horn about keeping unnecessary cars off the road along the magnificent Big Sur Coast, a jewel of his native Monterey County.  Jackson passed away on January 20, 2023; see “Remembering Jackson Stock (1944-2023).”

Tips for Bicycling the Big Sur Coast

Find the Bicycling Monterey work helpful? Click donate button below to contribute to the Bicycling Monterey website and projects via PayPal. Or, to contribute via check, and for FAQs, click here.

Some reliable information

resources with a focus on Big Sur

  • Big Sur Visitor Guide:
  • Monterey County native Passport Voyager offers tips including how to be a responsible tourist and help protect the beauty of Big Sur: “A Local’s Guide to Big Sur Hiking & Things to Do.
  • Monterey County Planning Commissioner Keith Vandevere’s grounded knowledge comes from being a Monterey County native who bikes and hikes a lot. Check out Keith’s blog Xasáuan Today.
  • Big Sur Kate, while not a cycling-focused blog, is a trusted resource for Big Sur information, from road closures and weather conditions to the most current concerns of local residents. See more about Kate below.
Show your love for Big Sur. Take time to research for yourself the latest information about restricted areas, regulations, and temporary (or permanent) closures. That includes knowing what’s allowed—and not allowed—in national forests, state parks, and other public areas. And of course, respect private property. Here are additional resources to get you started:
About Andrew Molera—and other California State Parks, when and where biking may be permitted

Biking Andrew Molera? Ride only on designated, marked trails. Yield to horses on shared paths. See “All kinds of trails for all levels of cycling—Biking in California State Parks.” For any changes about bikes at Andrew Molera, and for other details, refer to Andrew Molera website.

  • Consider hiking in Big Sur, then mountain biking elsewhere in Monterey County. More popular than Andrew Molera for mountain biking are Fort Ord and other locations. Fort Ord National Monument, Fort Ord Public Lands, and the Monterey Peninsula include beautiful trails where mountain biking is allowed. Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA) is a reliable resource whose most dedicated, longtime members, such as Henrietta Stern and Darius Rike, will be happy to answer your questions about great places to mountain bike—and how to show your love for the land by mountain biking responsibly.
  • Be kind to the land. MORCA’s leadership can share tips about how to protect the land as well as how to ride courteously on shared trails. Do not ride or brake on open terrain, and do not cut across switchbacks. To preserve trails for future users, do not use trails when they are wet or muddy. That’s right: ride dirt, not mud. Stay off trails until they’ve had a chance to dry up a bit. Read “Why we don’t night ride after rain” from MORCA and “Rules for Rainy Season Riding“from Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC).
General tips on biking Big Sur

As you may guess from the photos above, touring and other serious cyclists are a common sight on the Big Sur Coast. But heavy motor vehicle traffic is even more common. For many people who bike, the stress of sharing two-lane Highway 1 with lots of motor vehicles—often driven by people unfamiliar with the road and distracted by the beauty—can make biking Big Sur even more challenging than steep terrain.

What to do? Plan your schedule so you’re biking Big Sur on dates, and times of day, when traffic is lightest. Relax on the Big Sur Coast during peak traffic times, enjoying the grandeur of that scenery from a beach or other spot. Then, after traffic has diminished, enjoy biking Big Sur—perhaps even under the stars. See Wyatt Wood’s tail light tips in Biking in the Dark.

You may find of interest “Bike Touring Steinbeck Country” in California’s Adventure Sports Journal. It shares the experience of three visitors—Rick Gunn, Gary Cronk, and Eric Jarvis—about biking in Big Sur and elsewhere in Monterey County.


Except for touring cyclists and other people in great physical condition, and who are experienced with such road and traffic conditions, doing a bike-and-ride trip is the best way for many people to bike along the Big Sur Coast. Any mile of biking beats a mile of driving, and there’s no shame in doing both.

For tips on taking your bicycle aboard a Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) bus, click here. With the opening of Big Sur’s new Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge—scheduled for October 13, 2017—MST will resume operating the full route on Line 22 Big Sur. Visit for full details. Saturdays and Sundays, MST offers two trips in each direction; for any changes, check with MST.

Kindly note that bicycles were not allowed on the Sur Transportation shuttle service, which opened July 1, 2017 and was planned to operate 7 days a week until the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge reopened. The service is owned by fourth-generation Monterey County native Weston Call. See James Herrera’s Monterey County Herald story, 6/26/17, “Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will open to public this weekend” about that temporary shuttle. [Update: Sympathy to the loved ones of Weston Call, who died August 12, 2018, as reported by David Schmalz in the Monterey County Weekly: “Weston Call, founder of the Big Sur shuttle, dies at 32.” A KAZU story “Experimental Big Sur Shuttle Test Drives New Way To Reduce Traffic,” aired August 3, 2018.]

You may also be interested a 7/2/17 Herald story by Linda Mullally, “Big Sur trail opening, shuttle service make for pleasant experience,” in which she mentions that at the “south side trailhead,” Joaquin Sullivan “was just setting up shop with electric bicycle rentals.” Here’s what was up with that:

Bicycle rentals

Joaquin Sullivan, born on the South Coast, opened a temporary e-bike rental stand on July 1, 2017. The stand was located south of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, at Loma Vista, where access was most limited. When the bridge reopened, the rental stand relocated to Pacific Grove. Joaquin plans to continue offering some Big Sur bike tours. To keep in touch regarding any updates, visit AKA Note that Joaquin’s official business name is Big Sur Adventures, Inc., which is not to be confused with an unrelated business that registered the URL

If you’re (legally) biking sections of Highway 1 on the Big Sur Coast at these rare times when traffic is light, enjoy it—and also remember that bikes still don’t rule the road. Tim Huntington put it this way: “Please also note that although quiet, it’s an active highway with a 55 mph speed limit. Don’t stop to chat on the apex of a blind corner.”

Related tips

People biking to Big Sur may also wish to refer to tips on bicycling Carmel (north of Big Sur), which includes local bike shops just off Highway 1 between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road. Some tips in the Serious Cyclists section of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide may also be of interest to you.


The Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide includes a bike maps section. It features Monterey County maps and some other California bicycle maps, including San Luis Obispo County (south of Big Sur).

General Big Sur information resources

Big Sur Kate
As mentioned above, while not a cycling-focused blog, Big Sur Kate (the blog of retired attorney and Big Sur resident Kate Woods Novoa) is a highly valuable resource for anyone who visits or lives in Big Sur.

Road closures, weather conditions, and other important issues for the Big Sur Coast—including at times such as the Soberanes fire—are addressed on Kate’s award-winning blog. Kate is also on Facebook and on Twitter @bigsurkate.

Whether you are a touring cyclist, a mountain biker, or other person biking, Bicycling Monterey encourages respect for Kate’s advisories to people who bike, such as her 3/20/17 post, “To all our Big Sur visitors, particularly bicyclists…

Passport Voyager

Passport Voyager (also mentioned above) is a native of Monterey County. She grew up spending a lot of time in Big Sur, and she’s seen firsthand the impact of overtourism. She urges travelers to help protect this beautiful place; see her tips in “A Local’s Guide to Big Sur Hiking & Things to Do.

Big Sur Visitor Guide

And again, for additional Big Sur information, make use of

Additional Big Sur reminders

Are motor vehicles backing up behind you on Highway 1 (or elsewhere)? Please note the FAQs in the following Bicycling Monterey post: “Three Feet for Safety Act is CA law.”

My goddaughter’s home in Big Sur was on the front page of the Monterey Herald more than once during the Soberanes fire, reported to be the costliest fire to fight in U.S. history. Thankfully, her home was spared, but so many were not. Whether you’re camping, hiking, biking, driving, or whatever, if you and your companions haven’t had Scouting or other experiences where the importance of fire safety is emphasized, please make up for that now; one place to start is

Other places to bike in Monterey County 

For starters, check out Bicycling Monterey’s Where to Bike in Monterey County; tips on biking Carmel and Carmel Valley, Castroville and elsewhere in North CountyGreenfield and elsewhere in South County, Pebble Beach,  Salinas, and Seaside; and Cycling to Monterey County’s History Spots. A variety of Monterey County bike maps are available, including a HER Helmet Thursdays map—hundreds of places in 19 Monterey County communities that give discounts on Thursdays to people who bike.

If you find the Bicycling Monterey work of value,
consider making a contribution. Click here for ways to give and FAQS.

This post was published on 4 May 2017. One or more changes last made to this post on 28 May 2023.

  1. Some of these photos and stories are really inspiring. It has always been on my bucket list to one day cycle down the big sur coast. Hopefully, these tips you’ve shared will make my life planning the expedition a whole lot easier. Looking forward to it now and hope to complete the cycle tour soon.

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