Coastal access along the Big Sur coastline is difficult to find due to the steep, jagged cliffs and private land ownership. Two small picnic areas, Mill Creek and Willow Creek, offer coastal access along with small beaches. These areas are much less known and therefore less populated than the major beaches, Pfeiffer and Sand Dollar. At Willow Creek there are free restrooms and old road ledges to dangle your legs from as you enjoy a meal. An expanse of large boulders gives direct access to the ocean directly from the parking area, and to the north there lies a long beach. The viewpoint above Willow Creek Picnic area is often very crowded, but somehow this beach remains empty much of the time.
Millions of years ago the formation of Big Sur's dramatic coast begin in present day Mexico. Sediments were deposited by a river along the West Coast and were later compressed and folded to create the rocks seen today. The tectonic plate in which all these rocks formed then moved northward into present day Big Sur. Here this plate collided with another, leading to the uplifting of materials that created the Santa Lucia Mountains. Since the creation of the Santa Lucia Mountains, millions of years of erosion from the ocean waves and rainfall have left the coast we see today. Current seismic activity continues to move these mountains very slowly.