Guide to Highbridge Falls-Andrew Molera Falls
Within the confines of Andrew Molera State Park on the Big Sur Coast is a waterfall known as Andrew Molera Falls (also known as “Highbridge Falls” on Google Maps).
It took me two tries until I discovered it, but getting there required a significant amount of relentless wayfinding and overgrown scrambling.
The Mysterious Falls, Highbridge
The description in Ann Marie Brown’s 4th edition of her California Waterfalls book claimed that it was a very simple 10-minute walk after finding the right starting location; thus, this waterfall provided a bit of a problem for me.
That wasn’t the case for me the first time, back in April early 2023, and after that trip, I got the impression that the next time I tried to discover it, I would need to be prepared to work hard for it.
Nevertheless, given what was stated in the book, I was perplexed about how the waterfall could be so challenging to attain.
Then it occurred to me that perhaps it had something to do with the recent history of floods and fires as the extremes of Climate Change had negatively impacted the state’s Central Coast region.
The full context of the Highbridge Falls shows two trees bending and about to fall over in addition to the trees already falling around the falls themselves.
In fact, during my second visit, I had to scramble over many burned redwood trees that had fallen over due to the destabilized soil brought on by the fires, which had destroyed any use trails that had previously existed.
![Andrew_Molera_Falls](link to image)
Second Visit of HighBridge Falls
Additionally, as you can see in the image above, there is still a risk of additional trees falling into this drainage since I saw several other leaning trees, including a couple that were directly over the 35-foot Highbridge Falls.
Who knows how long it will be before Mother Nature reclaims this waterfall as reasonably accessible? But regardless of the situation, the level of danger and complexity will keep rising over time.
Looking back at the tangle of foliage and downed trees that I had to navigate through to get to Highbridge Falls gently. Even though it should have been a short outing based on the trekking distance, the difficulty rating reflects this. The Waterfalls of New Hampshire is also very attractive.
Tracking Down Andrew Molera Falls
Finding the right starting location is essential to locate Andrew Molera Falls. No signpost indicates that it is inside Andrew Molera State Park’s limits. The secret is to locate an unmarked gate at the end of an unpaved lane that leaves Highway. This barrier served as a roadblock on the unpaved exit off Highway 1 and was a crucial landmark for at least beginning the search for Andrew Molera Falls.
I noticed a few faint use trails leaving the road and dropping into the dense foliage as the gravel road climbed behind the gate. I suggest using the second-use trail that branches off the road because I could scramble from the first one I discovered soon after the gate (which crossed a burned-down redwood tree before continuing and disappearing in vegetation). Before starting to curve to the left, away from the loud creek that use-trail was higher up the dirt road. Another use trail that provided a faster route to the Andrew Molera Falls was at this bend, though it soon vanished under the mess of downed trees and foliage.
Let Continue the Journey
The dirt road curved to the left, away from Andrew Molera Falls. The Andrew Molera Falls were eventually reached through a faint use trail to the right of this gravel road.
The main thing I noticed, notwithstanding the difficulty of describing the climbing through the underbrush, was that soon, the creek would bend to the right (east). Because of that bend, which effectively disguised the Highbridge Falls until I was almost directly in front of them, I considered them rather elusive, especially in light of the required painful scrambling.
I moved closer to it to get a better view of the Andrew Molera Falls (which was largely obscured by a giant fallen redwood on the original approach). As I did so, I saw more risk associated with drop-offs and unstable creek embankments. I had to be careful where I put my weight in this area because an injury would not be beneficial. In any event, after approximately 35 minutes of stumbling and navigating, I made it to the base of the Highbridge Falls. On the return scramble, though, reaching the dirt road only took me about 15 minutes. That provides a sense of how things take longer when you’re not entirely sure where you’re going but are a lot simpler the following time once you know where you’re going.
![Highbridge_Falls](link to image)
Where Exactly Does The Unpaved Road Lead?
One of the errors I made in my initial search for Andrew Molera Falls was taking the dirt road to its conclusion. The dirt path soon reached this clearing with a few picnic tables and some fencing sticks. It turned out that this road climbed before turning away from the creek where the waterfall was located. It eventually came to a space with picnic tables and frayed fencing. Although I proceeded a short distance past the clearing to see where it ultimately led, I saw another faint track continuing to the left of the clearing. In any case, this dirt road served as a detour from the Andrew Molera Falls, but from that area, I could see some California condors circling above.
Observing a California Condor Flying Overhead as it Circles the La Ventana Wilderness
Despite a side trip to the picnic tables at the end of the road, I spent around 90 minutes away from the car overall on my second visit (as opposed to nearly an hour on my first fruitless visit).
Now that I know where to seek the Highbridge Falls on my next visit, it shouldn’t take 30-45 minutes.
While there were quite a few mosquitoes on my April early 2023 effort, there weren’t nearly as many during my February 2023 visit.
It may be best to conduct the scramble in the middle of winter (when the temperature is favourable) rather than later in the spring because of how much standing water has had a chance to remain and breed mosquitoes.