Sycamore Creek, Pfeiffer Beach

Sycamore Creek, Pfeiffer Beach

by | Sep 19, 2019

Sycamore Creek flows southwest for about 8 miles (12 km) out of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest to Pfeiffer Beach, a privately managed day-use area on the Big Sur Coast, 31 miles (50 km) south of Carmel and 25 miles (40 km) north of Lucia, California. Los Padres National Forest includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey and from sea level to 8,847 feet (2,697 m). The Big Sur Coast has no formal boundaries but refers to the area between Malpaso Creek, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of the Carmel River as the northern border, and the southern border is generally accepted to be San Carpóforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County.

Pfeiffer Beach is named after the nearby Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which is named after John Pfeiffer who lived in a cabin on the property beginning in 1884. He was the son of Michael Pfeiffer and Barbara Laquet. The Pfeiffer family immigrated from France and were among the first European settlers in the area. Many features in Big Sur are named for the descendants of the Pfeiffers. In 1930, John Pfeiffer had the opportunity to sell his land to a Los Angeles developer who wanted to build a subdivision on the land. Instead, Pfeiffer sold 700 acres (283 ha) to the state of California in 1933.

Pfeiffer Beach is south of Big Sur Station on Highway 1 and can be accessed by the Sycamore Canyon Road that leads 2 miles (3.2 km) downhill to the shore and the mouth of Sycamore Canyon Creek. The northern portion of the beach is known for pink-purple sand formed from metamorphic manganese-garnet minerals, such as Almandine and Spessartine, washed down from the Santa Lucia mountains via Sycamore Canyon Creek. The relatively heavy mineral sands collect on the surface and are generally most noticeable after rainstorms. Read more here and here. Explore more of Pfeiffer Beach here:

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About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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