Andrew Molera State Park

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Andrew Molera State Park
Andrew Molera State Park Beach.JPG
The beach in Andrew Molera State Park
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Location Monterey County, California, USA
Nearest city Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Coordinates 36°17′N121°50′W / 36.283°N 121.833°W / 36.283; -121.833 Coordinates: 36°17′N121°50′W / 36.283°N 121.833°W / 36.283; -121.833
Area4,766 acres (19.29 km2)
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

Andrew Molera State Park is a relatively undeveloped state park on the Big Sur coast of California, United States, preserving land as requested by former owner Frances Molera. Situated at the mouth of the Big Sur River, the property was part of the Rancho El Sur land grant, and later owned by Californio pioneer John Bautista Rogers Cooper and his descendants. [1] Cooper's grandchildren Andrew and Frances Molera inherited the property from their mother in 1918. Andrew popularized the artichoke in California in 1922, and died in 1931. [2] In 1965, Frances sold the property to The Nature Conservancy, stipulating that the park to be created should be named for her brother. [3]



Activities at the park include hiking, fishing and beachcombing, with miles of trails winding through meadows, beaches and hilltops. A primitive walk-in trail camp, popular with hikers and bikers, is located approximately one-third of a mile from the parking area. [4] It is considered the most reliable surfing area in Big Sur. [5]

The park is 20 miles (32 km) south of Carmel-by-the-Sea on State Route 1.


The Cooper Cabin Cabana Cooper.JPG
The Cooper Cabin

Andrew Molera State Park features the historic Cooper Cabin, built in 1861 or 1862. It is the oldest structure in Big Sur. [6] Fur trader Juan Bautista Roger Cooper was Andrew Molera's grandfather. [1]

The Ventana Wildlife Society has established a Discovery Center within the park. The Discovery Center includes exhibits on local wildlife, including the California condor, and a bird banding laboratory. Scientists and other laboratory employees give regular tours of Andrew Molera State Park, explaining the flora and fauna that are unique to the area. [5]

The park also features a year-round waterfall, 40-foot (12 m)Highbridge Falls. Other nearby waterfalls include Limekiln Falls, Salmon Creek Falls, McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Pfeiffer Falls in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.


Andrew Molera State Park has over 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails. Some run along the shore, others along the Big Sur River, while still others climb to high ridges with views of the entire Big Sur coast.

The only camping available in the park is in a 24-site walk-in campground. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. [4] The campground is particularly popular with European visitors. [1] No dogs are allowed on the trails or campground.

Marine protected areas

Point Sur State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas offshore from Andrew Molera State Park. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.


John Bautista Rogers Cooper traded Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo in the northern Salinas Valley with Juan Bautista Alvarado for the Rancho El Sur where the state park is located today. When the Mexican government ceded California to the United States after the Mexican–American War, the Land Act of 1851 required grantees to provide proof of their title. Cooper filed a claim for Rancho El Sur with the Public Land Commission in 1852, [7] and he received the legal land patent after years of litigation in 1866. [8] Cooper's son John Bautista Henry Cooper built a home on the ranch in 1899, but died soon after. John B.H. Cooper's sister Francisca Guadalupe Amelia Cooper inherited the southern portion of the rancho. When she died, her two children Andrew J. and Francisca (known as Frances) Molera inherited the land, although they lived their adult lives in San Francisco. [9] [10] [11] [12]

Andrew Molera, who was very obese, died of a sudden heart attack in 1931. His sister Frances became the sole owner of the family's Big Sur property. She arranged in 1965, almost 100 years after her grandfather John B.R. Cooper had gained title, to sell 2,200-acre (890 ha) of the southern portion of the original Cooper land grant east of Highway 1 to The Nature Conservancy with the intent that it should become a state park. The conservancy held the beachfront property in trust until the state of California could finance the purchase of the land. [13]

Frances Molera stipulated that the park should be named Andrew Molera State Park in honor of her brother. [14] She also added provisions to the sale requiring that the land remain relatively undeveloped. She died in 1968.

When the California state park administration began to propose considerable development for the park, the Nature Conservancy threatened to revoke the sale arrangement, and the state backed down. [15] The remainder of Frances Molera's half of the original Rancho El Sur east of Highway 1 was purchased by the state soon after her death.

See also

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Monterey County attractions

Monterey County is a county on the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California, its northwestern section forming the southern half of Monterey Bay. As of 2000, the population was 401,762. The coastline includes Big Sur, State Route 1, and the 17 Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula. The city of Monterey was the capital of California under Spanish and Mexican rule. The economy is primarily based upon tourism in the coastal regions, and agriculture in the Salinas Valley. Monterey County was home to writer and Nobel prize laureate John Steinbeck, writer Robert Louis Stevenson, and California poet Robinson Jeffers.

John B. R. Cooper American pioneer

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Rancho El Sur

Rancho El Sur was a 8,949.06-acre (36.22 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Monterey County, California on the Big Sur coast given in 1834 by Governor José Figueroa to Juan Bautista Alvarado. The grant extended from the mouth of Little Sur River inland about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) over the coastal mountains and south along the coast past the mouth of the Big Sur River to Cooper's Point. In about 1892, the rancho land plus an additional 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) of resale homestead land was divided into two major parcels. The southern 4,800 acres (1,900 ha) became the Molera Ranch, later the foundation of Andrew Molera State Park. The northern 7,100 acres (2,900 ha) formed the El Sur Ranch.

Rancho San Jose y Sur Chiquito

Rancho San José y Sur Chiquito was a 8,876-acre (35.92 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Big Sur, in Monterey County, California, given in 1835 to Teodoro Gonzalez and re-granted by Governor Juan Alvarado the same year to Marcelino Escobar. The grant, including Point Lobos, was located south of the Carmel River, extending inland along the coastal mountains, and south along the Pacific coast. It included San Jose Creek, Malpaso Creek, Soberanes Creek, Tres Pinos Creek, Garrapata Creek, and ended on the north side of Palo Colorado Canyon. The map drawn c. 1853 indicated a road or trail was already present along the coast.

Point Sur State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area protected area

Point Sur State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Point Sur State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) are two adjoining marine protected areas that lie offshore of Point Sur, part of the Big Sur area on California's central coast. The combined area of these marine protected areas is 19.68 square miles (51.0 km2). The SMR protects all marine life within its boundaries. Fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited. Within the SMCA fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the commercial and recreational take of salmon and albacore.

Anderson Canyon

Anderson Canyon in the Big Sur region of California was named after pioneering homesteaders James and Peter Andersen who were the first European settlers of the area. The canyon, Anderson Creek, and Anderson Peak are south of McWay Falls and within the boundaries of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Big Sur Land Trust

The Big Sur Land Trust is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit located in Monterey, California that has played an instrumental role in preserving land in California's Big Sur and Central Coast regions. The trust was the first to conceive of and use the "conservation buyer" method in 1989 by partnering with government and developers to offer tax benefits as an inducement to sell land at below-market rates. As of 2016, it has protected around 40,000 acres (16,187 ha) through acquisition and resale to government agencies. It has added conservation easements to another 17,000 acres (6,880 ha) and has retained ownership of a number of parcels totaling about 4,500 acres (1,821 ha).

Big Sur land use

The policies protecting land used in Big Sur are some of the most restrictive local-use standards in California, and are widely regarded as one of the most restrictive development protections anywhere. The program protects viewsheds from the highway and many vantage points, and severely restricts the density of development. About 60% of the coastal region is owned by governmental or private agencies which do not allow any development. The majority of the interior region is part of the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness or Fort Hunter Liggett. The area is protected by the Big Sur Local Coastal Plan, which preserves it as "open space, a small residential community, and agricultural ranching." It's intention is "preserving the environment and visual access to it, the policies of the local coastal plan are to minimize, or limit, all destination activities."

El Sur Ranch

The El Sur Ranch, located on the Big Sur coast of California, has been continuously operated as a cattle ranch since 1834. The approximately 7,100 acres (2,873 ha) ranch straddles Highway 1 for 6 miles (9.7 km) from the mouth of the Little Sur River to the mouth of the Big Sur River and Andrew Molera State Park. Both the ranch and the park originally comprised the Rancho El Sur land grant given in 1834 by Governor José Figueroa to Juan Bautista Alvarado. It has been owned by the Hill family since 1955, who operate a commercial cow-calf operation.

Big Sur Coast Highway

Big Sur Coast Highway is a section of California State Route 1 through the Big Sur region of California that is widely considered to be one of the most scenic driving routes in the United States, if not the world. It was the first California Scenic Highway and the first federal All American Road. It has been compared to the Amalfi Coast of Italy, the rugged scenic north coast of Taiwan, and roadways in the Andes. Condé Nast Traveler named State Route 1 through Big Sur one of the top 10 world-famous streets, comparable to Broadway in New York City and the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Big Sur Village, California Unincorporated community in California, United States

Big Sur is an unincorporated community village in Big Sur, Monterey County, California. It is located along a 1 mile (1.6 km) long stretch of Big Sur Coast Highway in the Big Sur Valley 24 miles (39 km) south of Carmel, California. The village contains the largest collection of shops and visitor services along the entire 71-mile (114 km) segment of California State Route 1 between Malpaso Creek near Carmel Highlands in the north and San Carpóforo Creek near San Simeon in the south. The population is about 1,463. The collection of small roadside businesses and homes is often confused with the larger region, also known as Big Sur. On March 6, 1915, United States Post Office granted the English-speaking resident's request to change the name of their post office from Arbolado to Big Sur. CalTrans also refers to the village as Big Sur.


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  2. Ferrary, Jeanette. "Artichokes". VIA Magazine (May/June 2000). Archived from the original on 19 March 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  3. "Discover California State Parks in the Monterey Area" (PDF). California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  4. 1 2 "Andrew Molera SP". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  5. 1 2 "Andrew Molera State Park". Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  6. Davis, Kathleen E. "Big Sur Cabin". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
  7. "Finding Aid to the Documents Pertaining to the Adjudication of Private Land Claims in California, circa 1852-1892".
  8. Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886 Archived 2013-03-20 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Year: 1880; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 78; Page: 76B; Enumeration District: 201
  10. Year: 1920; Census Place: San Francisco Assembly District 31, San Francisco, California; Roll: T625_136; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 153
  11. Year: 1930; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0334
  12. Year: 1940; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: m-t0627-00318; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 38-502
  13. Walton, John (2007). "The Land of Big Sur Conservation on the California Coast" (PDF). California History. 85 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 22, 2015e. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
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  15. Brooks, Shelley Alden (2017). Big Sur: The Making of a Prized California Landscape. University of California Press. ISBN   9780520294417 . Retrieved 11 March 2018.