As California drops most of its COVID-19 restrictions and reopens the state, one of its most popular hiking trails is opening to the public for the first time in 13 years.

Big Sur's Pfeiffer Falls Trail is reopening on June 18 after suffering devastating fire damage 13 years ago. The massive Basin Complex Fire tore through 162,818 acres of Big Sur coastline in June 2008. Considered one of the worst California wildfires, the lightning-sparked blaze destroyed much of the Pfeiffer Falls Trail's infrastructure, including bridges, railings, steps, signs, and walls.

Read more: 'The beginning of a new era' - what to expect as California reopens today

Pfeiffer Falls Trail
Pfeiffer Falls Trail returns even better than before ©Getty Images/500px Plus

Now thanks to a combined effort from California State Parks and the conservation group Save the Redwoods League, the trail will reopen to the public on June 18 and will look better than ever before, with improved access for hikers and bolstered ecosystems for the trail's wildlife inhabitants.

One of the most impressive new features of the Pfeiffer Falls Trail is the scenic 70-foot pedestrian expansion bridge spanning the Pfeiffer Redwood Creek ravine. The bridge takes foot traffic away from the sensitive streambed to improve the natural habitat of the aquatic ecosystem below, and gives hikers incredible views of the ravine and waterfalls. Additional improvements along the trail include the replacement of more than 4500 square feet of asphalt and concrete with a more aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately more sustainable, dirt trail.

California's 15 best hiking trails

Speaking ahead of the reopening, Jim Doran, California State Park's program manager for Monterey District Roads and Trails, said "before the 2008 Basin Complex Fire, this was one of the most popular trails in Big Sur — a destination for California tourists. With the trail’s many improvements completed, we’re happy to welcome visitors once again.”

The newly renovated trail 0.75-mile Pfeiffer Falls trail completes a 1.5-mile loop with the Valley View trail. According to the League, visitors will find new interpretive panels along the trail to educate them on redwoods and climate change, the Big Sur watershed, and the partnership between California State Parks and the US Forest Service.

Julia Pfeiffer beach, Big Sur
Big Sur coast is full of picture-perfect coves, including Julia Pfeiffer Beach ©Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock

If you're planning a trip to Big Sur this year be sure to check out other attractions in the area, including the quirky Henry Miller Memorial Library, a non-profit alt-cultural venue and bookshop nestled deep in the redwoods; Esalen Hot Springs for night bathing under the stars; Point Sur State Historic Park; the postcard-perfect Pfeiffer Beach; and Los Padres National Forest.

You might also like:

Weekend escape to Big Sur
The 16 best California road trips
North America's best national park day hikes

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