San Carpóforo Canyon

San Carpóforo Creek flows through San Carpóforo Canyon and into the Pacific Ocean in a small bay 20 miles (32 km) north of San Simeon on the Central Coast of California. The creek is generally considered to be the southern border of the Big Sur region of Central California.[1]

Bay at the mouth of San Carpoforo Creek, looking south from an overlook off CA-1. Ragged Point is the south boundary of the bay.
Big Sur


The first Europeans to visit the canyon was an expedition led by Gaspar de Portola on September 13, 1769. They rested for two days at the foot of the mountain range which at this point is very high and terminates in the sea. He was charged with exploring California and finding the city of Monterey. While camping there, they were visited by six indigenous people who offered pinole and fish and received beads in exchange. The Spanish sent scouts north and east. They found the Santa Lucia Mountains to the north were too rugged and blocked them from proceeding north. They decided to turn east where they thought they saw a break in the mountains and were forced to "make a road with a crowbar and pickaxe".[2]


The canyon and creek are named after Saint Carpophorus, an early Roman martyr.[citation needed] There is a trail and coastal access point just north of the bridge over the creek on California Highway 1.[3] In the early twentieth century, the canyon was nicknamed "Sankypoky" by the locals, which is a variant of the Spanish name.[4] Another variant was "San Carpojo" - tradition holds that someone at the Williams Ranch, which is situated at the mouth of the creek, could not pronounce "Carpóforo" and changed it to "Carpojo.”[5]


  1. ^ Chatfield, Michael (5 May 2014). "Big Sur Magic – Carmel Magazine". Carmel Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 April 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Big Sur Magic – Carmel Magazine". Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  3. ^ "San Carpoforo Creek Trail". Archived from the original on 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  4. ^ "California Coast Trails by J. Smeaton Chase". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  5. ^ VWA SAN CARPÓFORO TRAIL Trail Condition Report

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