Division Knoll

Sun, Feb 2, 2014

With: Steve Sywyk
Eric Smith

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map


This isn't much of a climb or hike or anything remotely related to a good physical workout. Division Knoll is a named summit on the Big Sur coastline entirely on private property. Three of us had spent the night at the Big Sur Lodge, waking up to rain in the early morning and decided to cut a three-day road trip short by a day - not much fun hiking in the rain, on that all of us agreed. But we had a short break in the weather to give us enough time to pay a visit to this point. From satellite views we knew there was a home at the summit. Whether it was occupied was the unknown question, but it seemed likely. Sandwiched on a small knoll between Rocky and Bixby Creeks, it has an unbelieveable view looking up and down the Big Sur coastline with two famous bridges on either side - Bixby Bridge and Rocky Creek Bridge. One can drive about a half mile up the Old Coast Rd starting at the north end of Bixby Bridge to a gate. The dirt road is well-graded but signed as impassable in wet weather as all dirt roads in the Monterey area are. The entrance gate was of beefy construction, oxidized bare iron. Some rust holes told us it was more than a few years old, but exactly how old was impossible to tell. There were no signs anywhere on the gate or fence. The gate was not electric as one might expect of the typically expensive Big Sur home, but locked with a simple padlock. This made us believe the place was not regularly occupied. We slipped under the fence and walked up the paved road to the summit, taking in the views and landscaping along the way.

We approached the home slowly, but grew more confident when we noted no vehicles in the driveway. We found something more than we had expected - a beautiful home whose walls were 90% tinted glass. It was the perverbial glass house that is supposed to discourage rock throwing by the occupants. The two level home had something like five bedrooms and two kitchens, every room looking out on the stunning views on at least two sides. Had there been any occupants, we'd probably have seen them very quickly. It was obvious that there were no personal effects anywhere inside. The grounds were immaculate as were the insides, and the windows were relatively clean throughout - the place obviously has regular maintenance. There was outdoor seating for at least ten and the inside could easily sleep that many, suggesting a party house of sorts. Near as we could guess, it was either someone's exclusive retreat house, or an expensive rental. An online search later showed it to be featured in at least half a dozen architecture sites (search for "Division Knoll home", but no information on ownership or rental availability. A Zillow search estimated the property to be worth $3.5M.

It rained briefly while we were at the top and we took cover under the roof. On the return we were treated to a rainbow over the Rocky Creek Bridge. Car-to-car was just over half an hour.

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