Limekiln State Park was one of the state parks on Highway 1 we hadn’t seen yet, so Susie and I packed ourselves and a cooler into the trusty Element, left the chihuahuas behind (to guard the ranch and bark at the clouds) and headed south on Highway 1.
We passed all the stops we had made before (Point Lobos, Garrapata, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Molera, Cafe Kevah, Bixby Bridge and so on…) and after about 50+ miles, made our way into the Limekiln parking lot.
We usually hike uphill into the woods first, then turn around and see what’s on the beach.
As we headed into the woods trail, the first thing I noticed was the small selection of nice campsites. Flat ground, the sounds of running water in the creek nearby, all under the cool shelter on the redwoods above.
So we head up the trail and walk through the big trees, just like at the other state parks in the area, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Partington Cove, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns. You walk along an easy trail, in the cool shadows of the big redwoods with the sound of water running in Limekiln Creek to your left.
We first walked the Limekiln Trail to the park’s namesake ‘lime kilns’, which is exactly what they are. Around 1887, Lime was cooked out of the rocks that were quarried nearby and then hauled down to the beach for shipping. The lime was used in cement for construction in Monterey and San Francisco. The business only lasted a few years and then it was abandoned.
At Partington Cove, tan bark was the commodity. Same story; cut it in the hills, haul it down to the coast. Until it runs out.
We then backtracked a bit onto the Falls Trail, which takes you to the 100’ Limekiln Falls.
Although the drought is still in full force (May 2015) it has rained recently and the falls have enough water to put on a pretty good show for what was an easy hike from the parking lot.
Susie and I then headed back down the trail, past the campsites and onto the beach. As the cars on Highway 1 cruise by 50 feet above your head, the trail opens out into a cove where Limekiln Creek spills out into the Pacific.
It’s pure California. A small sandy beach, rugged rock formations, blue ocean with rolling surf and plenty of smooth river rocks that lend themselves to the local pastime of stacking stones.
As you drive south on Highway 1, many of the state parks along the way are variations on a theme: redwood trails to the left, rugged coastline and beach to the right.
What did we like about Limekiln? An easy trail through the redwoods and to the beach (Partington’s beach trail is a little steep); a nice, accessible waterfall (McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns is cool, but you can only see it from a distance) and a small selection of campsites that have you under the redwoods and just minutes from the beach.
So if you cannot find parking at Julia Pfeiffer Burns, and zoom past Partington Cove, set your sights on Limekiln State Park. Its got everything you drove down Highway 1 for in the first place, all in an easy-to-take package.
Kid factor: (+) You get an easy hiking trail, running alongside a creek; you get redwoods and a waterfall; you get a beach with sand and smooth rocks to play with, and if you’re up for it, a pretty nice campground. (-) Have a healthy respect for the surf; it can be pretty quiet until a big set comes in and suddenly you’re in trouble, with no lifeguards around. And as I write in every posting, know what Poison Oak looks like stay away from it. Some of the smooth stones on the beach are just the right size for throwing at your little brother. Consider yourself warned.
Fitness Factor: (+) Nice, easy trails (not ADA accessible. Go to Point Lobos for that). (-) Can’t really think of any negative fitness issues less you’re dumb enough to try swimming in the freezing water.
Photo Factor: Big trees and California coastline photo ops. If you want to get a shot under the big trees or the waterfall that’s worth keeping, use your stix and bracket the thing, or use the HDR set up on your cel camera. The waterfalls is a histogram freak-out: bright skies and dark shadows.