Dogs at Andrew Molera and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Parks

Where can I take my dog at Andrew Molera and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Parks?
At Andrew Molera SP, dogs are allowed on leash in the developed areas, which include the main parking lot and roadways to the adjacent historical buildings area Molera Ranch House, Ornithology Lab, and Molera Trail Rides complex.  At Pfeiffer Big Sur SP (four miles south on Highway 1), dogs are allowed on leash in the developed campground and day use areas.  Dogs are also allowed on United States Forest Service (USFS) property, including Pfeiffer Beach.  In partnership with USFS, visitors accessing the USFS Ventana Wilderness via the Pine Ridge Trailhead at Big Sur Station may cross state park property with their dog on leash.  Always inquire locally about specific regulations and changes.

Why do dogs have to be on leash in developed areas?
Dogs are required to be on a leash no longer than six feet and under the owner’s immediate control.   Loose, uncontrolled dogs can lead to wildlife disturbances, dog fights, and potential dog and/or human injury.  Even well-behaved dogs can be unpredictable in an unfamiliar outdoor setting. 

In the past, Andrew Molera SP allowed dogs on trails, Trail Camp, and the beach. Why the change?
Andrew Molera SP had been an exception to allowing dogs on leash outside of developed areas. This exception had evolved in conjunction with the opening of Trail Camp and the uncontrolled number of campers there. With the operational changes at Trail Camp to meet County Health mandated carrying capacity numbers for campers, there was an opportunity to better protect the park’s resources and visitors in regards to dog regulations as well by applying the same California Code of Regulations to Andrew Molera.  The park’s resources are certainly as worthy of protection as other state parks.

I always keep my dog on a leash. Why am I being punished?
Wildlife viewing is one of the primary attractions for Andrew Molera SP visitors. The beach at Andrew Molera has been identified as a wintering location for the endangered snowy plover. Since wild animals consider dogs predators, their presence can startle other animals and disrupt their natural behavior. The canine scent of dogs is present whether the dog is on a leash or not.

So why are horses still allowed at Andrew Molera State Park?
Horses are allowed only on designated trails and cannot roam freely as dogs can. They are not predatory animals, so they do not cause the same behavior disruptions for wild animals. Furthermore, most of the horse trail usage is through the concessionaire operation, and their contract requires they maintain the trails for waste and repairs.  The potential impact of horses on the park’s resources, particularly the steelhead and the river, is being looked at to determine ways to reduce or eliminate such impacts.

Thank you for your cooperation.
Enjoy your visit.