Skip to Content

Is Big Sur Dog-Friendly? (Best Hikes, Beaches, & Hotels)

Next time I visit Big Sur, I’d love to take my pup with me. The only thing is, I have no clue where Big Sur allows dogs. Which hotels, campgrounds, hikes, or beaches? So, I did some research. Here’s what I found.

Dogs are not allowed on State Park trails but are allowed on paved roads, and some campsites. Dogs are allowed on any trail in Los Padres National Forest and at the following beaches: Pfieffer Beach, Sand Dollar Beach, and Garrapata Beach. Hotels that allow dogs include Big Sur Lodge and Fernwood Campground & Resort.

Let’s dive deeper and see which specific hikes, beaches, hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants dogs are allowed at!

Big Sur Coast photo from our trip

Are Dogs Allowed at Big Sur State Parks?

“Dogs are not allowed on State Park trails but are allowed in the picnic or day use areas, some campgrounds and on paved roads throughout the park.  Dogs must be on a leash no more than 6 feet long at all times and may not be left unattended.”

California Department of Parks and Recreation

Pro Tip: All dogs are allowed in any trail in Los Padres National Forest.

6 Dog-Friendly Big Sur Hikes

1. Tanbark Trail & Tin House


I hiked this trail a year ago and can safely say it’s my favorite hike EVER. Huge bonus that they allow dogs.

If you are looking to see redwoods while visiting, I 100% recommend going here. The trail begins with the beautiful creek about half a mile in, huge redwood trees, and ends with views of the ocean. The whole thing made me feel like I was in a fairy tale.

The whole trail is a 6 mile loop, so be sure to bring lots of water.

Tip: Park along Highway 1, basically at the Partington Cove trailhead. Instead of going towards the ocean, you go inland to the other trailhead named Tanbark Trail.

Partington Cove Trail is also a great trail to see redwoods that happens to be closer to the ocean shore.

2. Salmon Creek Trail to Salmon Creek Falls

Our vacation to Salmon Creek Falls

This hike is perfect for those with dogs who love to swim.

Salmon Falls cascades down a steep canyon wall that happens to be a part of the Santa Lucia Mountain range. The waterfall pours down, creating a swimming hole that visitors are known to swim in.

Visitors take the Salmon Creek Trail, a 0.3-mile in-and-out hike that leads them to a swimming hole.

My family and I went here a few years ago and we loved it. I even went in the water. Definitely cold, but beautiful.

Just be careful with the rocks. It’s important to exercise caution and be aware of local conditions and safety guidelines.

3. Timber Top and Boranda Trail

Dogs in Big Sur

This trail is a 5.3 mile hike out and back where you face clear views of the ocean from the mountains you’re climbing for the first 1/2 of a mile.

“Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas.” –AllTrails

4. Sykes Hot Springs via Pine Ridge Trail

More of a hike for backpackers, the full length of Pine Ridge Trail is 19 miles. The reason this trail is so popular is because there are hot springs 10 miles into the hike.

Pine Ridge Trail connects the Big Sur Station with Tassajara Road at China Camp traveling through the chaparral and a cover of redwoods, pine and oak.”

California Department of Parks and Recreation

5. Prewitt Ridge Trail

A little more of a strenuous hike like the last one, Prewitt Ridge Trail is a 7.2 mile hike that allows dogs on leashes.

The hike showcases Big Sur’s coastline and even offers dispersed camping (no vehicles allowed due to fires).

6. Pfieffer Big Sur State Park

As mentioned earlier, trails located inside state parks do not allow dogs. However…

“1⁄2 mile north of the Big Sur Station, leashed dogs can walk with their people on all paved roads (no trails) in the Day Use Area and Campground. The Warden’s Path/River Path loop (accessible at Day Use 1 and 2 parking areas) also allows dogs.”

California Department of Parks and Recreation

The same rules apply to other state parks such as Andrew Molera, Julia Pfieffer Burns, and Limekiln.

Are Dogs Allowed at McWay Falls?

My photo of McWay Falls Waterfall

The popular beach waterfall outlook McWay Falls sadly does not allow dogs (excluding service dogs) due to the trail being located inside of a state park.

3 Dog-Friendly Big Sur Beaches

1. Pfieffer Beach

Pfieffer Beach

Dogs on leashes are allowed at Pfieffer Beach. This secluded beach is known for its exceptional sunsets, turquoise waters, and purple sand.

Although the beach is not very large, it offers plenty of space for swimming, sunbathing, and exploring the tide pools. The waves can be strong at times, so it’s important to be cautious and aware of the conditions before entering the water.

One of the highlights of Pfeiffer Beach is the Keyhole Arch, a natural rock formation that frames the sunset perfectly. Visitors can take a short hike to the arch and watch the sun go down behind the ocean.

2. Garrapata Beach

Dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach at Garrapata State Park and on the trails leading to the beach.

Garrapata State Park has just about two miles of beachfront, with coastal hiking, and has a beautiful view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a marine protected area. 

“The park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves. Sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters frequent the coastal waters and California gray whales pass close by during their yearly migration.”

California Department of Parks and Recreation

3. Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is known for its pristine white sand and crystal-clear water. It is located about 15 miles south of the town of Big Sur and is easily accessible from Highway 1.

The beach is a favorite spot for surfers, as the waves can get quite large and powerful. However, it is also a great place for swimming, especially during low tide when the water is calm and shallow.

5 Dog-Friendly Big Sur Hotels

1. Big Sur Lodge

Located in the heart of Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur Lodge offers 62 cottage-style rooms to choose from, wine tasting, golf, and is just a short drive from popular Big Sur activities and sights.

Their new pet policy allows up to 2 dogs in dog-friendly rooms. The pet fee is $50 per night.

Reserve here.

2. Ventana Big Sur

Dogs are allowed at the campsites and “glampsites” at Ventana Big Sur for $70/night.

Ventana Big Sur is located inside a 20-acre redwood canyon and has many amenities such as fire pits, hot showers, and even smores.

Reserve here.

3. Fernwood Resort

Fernwood Resort not only offers campsites but motel rooms and “glampsites”. Amenities include bathhouses, a laundry facility, water, electricity, and fire rings.

Dogs are also allowed at the bar and grill!

Reserve here.

4. Riverside Campground & Cabins

Riverside Campground & Cabins offers 12 cabins with 2 queen beds along the Big Sur River surrounded by a redwood forest. Beach access and hiking trails are accessible only 10 minutes away.

Amenities include hot showers, laundry, fire pits, and even tubes to swim down the river in!

Reserve here.

5. Airbnb’s

If none of the above hotels suit you, a great way to find places that allow dogs is to look for places to stay on Airbnb that allow pets.

4 Dog-Friendly Big Sur Campgrounds

Ventana Campground

Redwoods-with-fog on my hike

Cost: $80/night on average

Located in a redwood grove, Ventana Campground is a high-class campsite that offers drive-in campsites.

Ventana Campground also rents out cabins and “glamping” tents with showers and all the amenities you can think of.

Pfieffer Big Sur State Park Campground

Cost: $35/night

Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is one of the most popular state parks in Big Sur, known for its ocean views, redwoods, and hikes. They have multiple different campgrounds to choose from that are dog-friendly.

They also rent out cabins if you are looking for a more comfortable stay.

Sykes Hot Springs Campground

Cost: Free

If you are planning on doing the backpacking trip to sykes hot springs, there are many campsites that all allow dogs along the way with the most popular one being 10 miles into the hike called Sykes Hot Springs Campground.

Visit Ventana Wilderness Alliance for more information.

3 Dog-Friendly Big Sur Restaurants

1. The Redwood Grill at The Fernwood Resort

The Redwood Grill at The Fernwood Resort offers a rustic yet cozy dining experience amidst the backdrop of California’s breathtaking coastline.

As part of the legendary Fernwood Resort, this bar and grill is an iconic stop for travelers exploring the scenic Highway 1.

The menu boasts a variety of dishes, made from locally-sourced ingredients, satisfying both casual diners and food enthusiasts. With its inviting ambiance, punctuated by live music on select nights, this is a great restaurant to stop at with or without dogs.

2. Big Sur Bakery

Housed in a historic 1930s ranch house, this culinary gem offers more than just baked goods; it presents an authentic Big Sur experience.

Visitors are treated to a delectable fusion of artisanal pastries, locally-sourced meals, and an atmosphere of rustic charm.

3. Coast Big Sur

With panoramic views of the azure Pacific Ocean, diners are treated to an immersive sensory experience. The menu, inspired by the rich bounty of the region, showcases fresh, local ingredients crafted into culinary masterpieces. Not to mention, they allow pets!