360° VR Panoramas of Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur and the Central Coast
Pacific Valley and Sand Dollar Beach
Near Plaskett Creek, Los Padres National Forest, California

The only wide coastal terrace south of Big Sur is known as Pacific Valley. This entire stretch of coast belongs to the U.S. Forest Service. Cattle grazing there has now been halted and it is an excellent area for cliff-top walks. It is also the landing area for hang gliders and similar that launch from Prewitt Ridge 3000 feet above.

Sandy beaches are few and far between in Big Sur, and many of them are also hard to reach, but Sand Dollar Beach is easily accessed by both a well-graded trail and a staircase. Additionally, it has a forest service picnic area, and the Plaskett Creek Campground is across the highway. It is popular for walking and surfing, and several outcrops of serpentinite in the cliffs provide the source material for polished jade and nephrite pebbles found in the sand.

Los Padres National Forest: Sand Dollar Beach Day Use

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Mansfield Rock on the Big Sur Coast

Mansfield Rock on the Big Sur Coast

Mansfield Rock is at the north end of the broad coastal terrace known as Pacific Valley.

near Pacific Valley on the Big Sur coast, California

Date photographed: April 4, 2012
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Sand Dollar Beach overlook

Sand Dollar Beach overlook

A short trail leads from the parking lot to this overlook above Sand Dollar Beach.

Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

Date photographed: September 15, 2015
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Clifftop collapse at Sand Dollar Beach

Clifftop collapse at Sand Dollar Beach

A section of clifftop above Sand Dollar Beach has slumped down 5 to 10 meters.

Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

Date photographed: September 15, 2015
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Trail and stairs down to Sand Dollar Beach

Trail and stairs down to Sand Dollar Beach

A well-built trail and a long flight of stairs lead down the cliffs to Sand Dollar Beach.

Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

Date photographed: September 17, 2015
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Serpentinite at Sand Dollar Beach

Serpentinite at Sand Dollar Beach

Large bodies of serpentinite are seen in the cliffs at Sand Dollar Beach. Similar rocks can be seen at Jade Cove, two miles further south.

Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

Date photographed: September 17, 2015
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Half-mile long Sand Dollar Beach

Half-mile long Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is popular with surfers, fishermen, and dogs.

Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

Date photographed: September 17, 2015
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Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach

Most beaches on the Big Sur coast are small pocket beaches and many of them are made of gravel or dark sand. Sand Dollar Beach by contrast is a half-mile crescent of pale golden sand.

Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

Date photographed: September 17, 2015
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