While hiking in the Ventana Wilderness in Big Sur, Calfornia, I kept trying to figure out one question: what is the source of the Big Sur river?

Wikipedia reports its tributaries being the Redwood Creek, Lion Creek, Logwood Creek, Terrace Creek, Ventana Creek, Post Creek, Pfeiffer-Redwood Creek, Juan Higuera Creek, and Pheneger Creek, but the source of the water is not described therein.

Does any water from the Salinas Valley make it into the Santa Lucia mountain range, feeding into this river, or is it solely fed by rain fall? Does spring water play any role?


1 Answer 1


This is the response I received after asking a friend who works as an Hydrologist:

The river is fed by ground water that is slowly leaking out of the base of the mountains. Rain water slowly percolates through the (elevated) soil, which is why the river still runs many months after the rainy season.

Note to other prospective respondents: if you have a more technical/accurate answer to my question, I am still curious about the mechanics of this process, and am will mark yours as the correct answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's the correct answer. Groundwater is everywhere, when the groundwater surface cross the ground level, we have a lake or river. Groundwater flows towards a lower hydrostatic level, e.g. a river or the ocean. $\endgroup$
    – user2821
    Nov 27, 2016 at 9:01

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