Big Sur can’t help itself: it’s romantic by nature, literally, and possesses more surprises than a box of mixed chocolates. Grab your main squeeze and head to one of its less-traveled gems. Set between Carmel and Cambria, Limekiln State Park boasts a 100-foot, A-shaped waterfall reached by a short, adventurous hike in a redwood canyon. Evergreen aromas make a nice aphrodisiac as you stroll up Limekiln Trail and along its namesake creek. When the trail forks you have two options: continue on Limekiln Trail for 0.2 mile to reach four historic 125-year-old kiln furnaces once used to purify lime extracted from the surrounding limestone; or hike 0.2 mile on Falls Trail, which ascends the east fork of the creek to Limekiln Falls. You’ll have to hop across boulders and logs to reach the waterfall—toppled redwood trunks make great natural bridges, so you should be able to keep your toes dry on the final push to the prize: the unique formation of Limekiln Falls, fanning down a sun-kissed wall at the back of the canyon just above the redwoods. Take a seat on a boulder and serenade your love to the sound of tumbling water.
TIP: Limekiln State Park has 24 campsites, most of which are set beneath the redwoods. Turn the romance dial to eleven as you snuggle up beneath these beauties. (Make reservations through ReserveAmerica.com.) Or opt to splurge on Big Sur’s Treebones Resort, which can’t be beat for its Pacific-facing, fancy yurts and newest addition—the utterly unique “nest”.
Due to Caltrans construction, a section of Highway 1 north of Limekiln State Park will be closed from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday until the end of February 2013. Plan your trip accordingly. Located on Highway 1, Limekiln State Park is 52 miles south of Carmel (map). Take a park brochure and map and begin hiking up Limekiln Trail through a campground. Cross a bridge and stay to the left past Hare Creek Trail. Hike a quarter-mile to the second junction, where you can continue straight for 0.2 mile to the kilns or turn right and hike 0.2 mile to reach the waterfall. There is a $10 state park day-use fee. You can walk down to the beach at Limekiln SP, but beware of the dangerous riptide. No dogs.