Sand Dollar Beach Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Easy
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
0.6 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
32 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Sand Dollar Beach Trail

The Sand Dollar Beach Trail is a must-visit when in the Big Sur. The long stretch of pristine beach boasts the ideal opportunity for sightseeing, beachcombing, surfing, fishing, and lounging. Explore the postcard-perfect seashore bound by the crashing surf and dramatic headlands—you won’t be disappointed.

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Route Description for Sand Dollar Beach Trail

The Mount Pinos Trail is wonderfully scenic, offering a diversity of flora and epic views of the encompassing wilderness. Presenting an adventure for explorers of all ages year-round, this route attracts a decent crowd—especially in the summer months. Those seeking a more tranquil experience are encouraged to head out in the morning. Note this path is almost entirely exposed, so check the forecasts and dress accordingly—don’t forget the SPF! When visiting in the winter, it is important to note that an Adventure Pass is needed, which costs $5USD a day. Wintertime expeditions may also require a pair of crampons or snowshoes.

Boasting an experience for all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts, Mount Pinos Trail is an adventurer’s haven. The summertime boasts the ideal climate for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and our favorite—star gazing. Winter expeditions are equally as scenic, offering ideal snowshoeing and even backcountry skiing and snowboarding possibilities. No matter the season, the lush vegetation, wildlife, and unrivaled vistas from the overlook will not disappoint. Don’t forget to charge your camera and consider packing a picnic and have lunch overlooking the mountainous landscape. We love this trail if you can’t already tell, and we know you will too.

Your journey along the Mount Pinos Trail begins from the Chula Vista Trailhead off the Mount Pinos Nordic Base Parking Lot. Setting out from here, follow the Mount Condor Summit Trail north before diverting west at the first junction. From the trailhead, the path will gradually climb through the pine tree stands up to the peak, providing a great leg workout. Traveling west, the route will indulge you with vibrant wildflowers interspersed within the chaparral bushes in the summer months. Continue hiking, and the path will intersect with Amargosa Creek, which you will likely find parched.

The higher you climb, the more exposed the terrain will become, so enjoy the sparse tree shade! The Mount Condor Summit Trail will ultimately deliver you to the summit of Mount Pinos, where you will probably find yourself in the company of fellow explorers reveling in the beautiful views. Admire the scene of the southern Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada, the Caliente Range, and the San Andreas Fault. After appreciating the beauty and grandeur of the encompassing landscape, head back along the path the way you came to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is the longest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur, California. Located in the Los Padres National Forest near Gorda, this beach attracts plenty of sightseers, photographers, surfers, and fishermen. Stretching about 0.8 km in length, the sandy beach is bound by dramatic bluffs topped with Monterey pines and coastal grasslands. Few lucky visitors can enjoy sights of the Gray whale migration from the beach during certain seasons.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Sand Dollar Beach have sand dollars?

Despite its name, Sand Dollar Beach is not abundant with sand dollars, though you can find some on occasion.

Are dogs allowed on Sand Dollar Beach?

Yes, dogs are welcome on Sand Dollar Beach as long as they remain on leash.

What is Sand Dollar Beach known for?

Sand Dollar Beach is the largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur, ideal for surfing and fishing.

Insider Hints for Sand Dollar Beach Trail

  • Be mindful of ripe tides when surfing and swimming
  • Dogs must be kept on leash at all times
  • Head out in the evening to enjoy the sunset
  • Pack lunch and have a picnic overlooking the surf
  • Be prepared for windy conditions
  • Charge your camera—the scenes are picture perfect

Getting to the Sand Dollar Beach Trail Trailhead

The Sand Dollar Beach Trail is accessed from the parking lot off California State Route 1.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground


  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly


  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Sand Dollar Beach Trail Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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Sand Dollar Beach Trail Reviews

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