Purple Sand Beach

I really enjoy finding unique beaches. A prime example is sea glass beach in Fort Bragg. I managed to stumble across another one this weekend when I traveled to Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur California.

I actually have been to Pfeiffer Beach before (with direction on how to get there), but didn’t realize that it had a little secret — it’s one of the few purple sand beaches in the world. I missed this because the main part of beach doesn’t have much purple sand (if you look closely, you can see little bits here and there, but if you weren’t specifically looking for it, you wouldn’t notice it — at least I didn’t on my first visit).

To really see the purple sand, you need to walk beyond the main beach area toward the north. The father up the beach you head in this direction, the more purple sand that can be seen. The easiest place to spy the purple sand is at the base of the hills, but there will be certain areas of the beach that also have purple sand patterns woven into the mix. For those who go to the beach expecting that the entire beach will be purple, they will be disappointed. The vast majority of the beach is white sand like any other beach. There are, however, areas where purple sand mixes with the white sand (usually with black sand as well) to make some wonderful patterns:

purple sand

What is amazing is that each time a wave comes up the beach and washes over the purple sand, the pattern changes making it like a constantly changing giant sand painting:

purple sand beach

Due to the numerous rock outcroppings just off shore, you can see California Coastal National Monument from Pfeiffer Beach as well:

Pfeiffer beach

The purple sand is the result of manganese garnet deposits which are found in the hills surrounding the beach. For anyone that enjoys seeing the unexpected and interesting phenomenon at the beach, scheduling a day to explore the purple sands at Pfeiffer Beach is definitely worth taking the time to do.

Limekiln Falls Limekiln State Park

I always love when I come across the unexpected. As I was traveling highway 1 down the coast of California, I heard that it would be worthwhile stopping at Limekiln State Park (CA) to see the waterfall that they had there. I enjoy waterfalls and think that they have a mysterious beauty in themselves so it was a no brainer that I would make the stop, but I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful Limekiln Falls actually is.

There isn’t much parking at Limekiln State Park (maybe 20 spaces total outside of the camping area) as it is mainly a place set aside for those camping. To get to the Limekiln Trail (which will lead to Falls Trail), you park your car and head toward the bathrooms at the end of the parking lot. As you pass the bathrooms, you’ll get a see of all the dangers that you could face on the trail.

hiking warning signs displayed at Limekiln State Park

Once past the bathrooms, you need to walk through the camp ground to the far end where the Limekiln Trail Head is located. Once on the trail, it will fork about 200 yards in with Hare Creek Trail to the right and Limekiln Trail to the left following Limekiln Creek:

Limekiln Creek at Limekiln State Park California

The trail is shaded and cool with huge clovers covering the ground in many areas:

giant clovers at Limekiln State Park California

Stay to the left at the fork on Limekiln Trail and about 1/4 of a mile further on the trail will fork again with Limekiln Trail to the left and Falls Trail to the right. Stay right. Once you reach this fork, it’s about another half mile to the falls (about 1 mile in total).

The Falls Trail has some obstacles, but most people should be able to manage it. There are several places where you must cross Limekiln Creek. Fallen branches and logs have been placed down at these crossings, but it does require a bit of balance if you don’t want to fall into the water:

Creek crossing Limekiln Creek California

There are also several places where fallen trees have blocked the trail and you must scramble under or over them to remain on the trail:

fallen tree across Falls Trail at Limekiln State Park

Once you reach Limekiln Falls, I immediately realised why people recommended to place it on the lists of places to see. The waterfall fans out and much of it cascades down mossy vegetation in the center of the falls. It reminded me a bit of the waterfalls in Fern Canyon at Redwood National Park, but on a much larger scale (it’s about 100 feet in height) and with the sun making everything sparkle:

Limekiln Falls at Limekiln State Park California

close-up of Limekiln Falls at Limekiln State Park

If you happen to being driving the coast of California, it’s definitely worthwhile making a stop to see this waterfall. If interested, here are some more photos of Limekiln State Park. Unfortunately, Limekiln State park is on the list of California State parks to close.