Highway 1 north of the lighthouse, the road twists and turns and climbs until at the summit you come upon the roadside stop of Ragged Point where a gas station, general store, snack stand and gift shop are located.
You can stroll the path through a grove of Monterey Cypress out to the end of the point to see the spectacular views of the Big Sur coast. Hardy individuals often opt to hike down the trail to the private beach. This descent takes you past Black Swift Falls, the tallest waterfall on the Big Sur Coast. The falls are sparse in summer, but flow abundantly in springtime falling over three hundred feet to the sea. The name “Black Swift” is derived from an endangered bird that nests on steep cliffs near coastal waterfalls. While the hike down Ragged Point Trail is beautiful, people should keep in mind that it is an arduous climb back up.
Big Sur is a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of California between Carmel and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery. Big Sur has been called the “longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States.” a sublime “national treasure that demands extraordinary procedures to protect it from development,” and “one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, mythic in reputation.” The views, redwood forests, hiking, beaches, and other recreational opportunities have made Big Sur a popular destination for about 7 million people who live within a day’s drive and visitors from across the world. It is among the top 35 tourist destinations world-wide. The region receives about the same number of visitors as Yosemite National Park, but offers only limited bus service, few restrooms, and a narrow two-lane highway that for most of its length clings to the steep coastal cliffs.
The section of Highway 1 running through Big Sur is widely considered one of the most scenic driving routes in the United States, if not the world. The unblemished natural scenery owes much of its preservation to the highly restrictive development plans enforced in Big Sur; no billboards or advertisements are permitted along the highway and signage for businesses must be modestly scaled and of a rural nature conforming to the Big Sur region. The state of California designated the 72-mile (116 km) section of the highway from Cambria to Carmel Highlands as the first California Scenic Highway in 1965. In 1996, the road became one of the first designated by the federal government as an “All-American Road” under the National Scenic Byways Program.