Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park features redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows - plus open meadows. Wildlife includes black-tail deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and birds, such as water ouzels and belted kingfishers. Hikers can enjoy the many scenic trails, including a self-guided nature trail. Some campsites are along the Big Sur River. The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big south", or from "el país grande del sur", "the big country of the south". The terrain offers stunning views, making Big Sur a popular tourist destination. Big Sur's Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous 48 states, ascending nearly a mile (5,155 feet/1571 m) above sea level, only three miles (4.8 km) from the ocean.
WARNING: This Trail is closed as part of Soberanes fire. While Sykes wasn't affected by the fire. There has been reports of people Illegally camping in and having campfires according to the ranger station.
The ranger, said that it'll be closed for a while. Likely to open back up in April.
This is a pretty trail but when I went it had a lot of trash (be a Good Samaritan and pick some up peeps!!) The waterfall itself was smaller than I expected but it is still worth hiking to. This hike is a a decent uphill until you reach the trail head for the falls where it gets more downhill.
First time where I hiked and camped overnight with all my gear. Left at 4pm and got up before it got dark to setup camp. Definitely needed the hot springs to recover. Dogs barely made it but did it 2 days. Definitely possible if you keep a good pace
Great hike with plenty of level ground and up hill climbing. Lots of wildlife and people so you are not alone on the trail. The water fall is decent however lots of bugs when you get there so it's hard to enjoy the falls for long. Parking in the hotel lot near the end was fine, they didn't tow us.
I have backpacked to Ventana Camp once before I did this trek. I really am not entirely experience in backpacking and I am here to warn you if you are not experienced I would skip this trip or maybe just settle for a closer camp. It took me two days to get out to Sykes. We kinda just decided to go on the trail and see how far we could go and we ended up making it all the way to Sykes. It was gorgeous there. WAY to many people though and people were not respecting others turns in the hot springs. They were just all jumping in front of people who were waiting to get into them. Also kinda wanted to be able to strip down but that was impossible cause so many people there and young kids. (awkward) other than that it was extremely gorgeous and was nice to be able to rest muscles in hot springs after that long trek. It only took us a day to get out all the way back to our car which was impressive for me though it was mostly down in elevation. Id also suggest going extremely early in the day or later at night and also in a cooler season because it gets really hot and strenuous on that trail especially from the trail head to Ventana camp.
The proximity to San Francisco is super convenient. We took a quick 2.5 hour drive on Friday evening, and slept in the back of a Getaround Prius in a parking lot near the trailhead. We got a late start (late for what we wanted) and were on the trail by 9:30am. It was foggy for the first 3 miles or so, which was great. It kept the temperature down during the steep initial ascent. The single track trail is well maintained, and relatively easy as far as wilderness trails go. The main challenge is the length. There's a great resting place at the 5 mile mark.
We arrive at Sykes camp around 1:30pm, and the sites were starting to fill up. By evening, every possible camp site was filled. Not a great location for solitude. Some camps were playing music, other camps were building campfires during a fire ban. There were no outhouses, and lots of toilet paper scraps scattered around in the brush. I would happily pay a fee for a wilderness permit if they figured out a toilet solution. The amount of traffic this place gets is pretty incredible, and I wonder how it's affecting the area. There was even some toilet paper scraps near the creek, which is pretty nasty.
We avoided the hot springs that evening because of the amount of people camping in the area. We woke up at 5:30am and hiked in the morning light down to the pools and had a nice quiet soak. I was again surprised to see all the campsites filled with campers, even all the way down to the hot springs. There was a tent set up right at the pools as well.
All in all, it was a fun trip, but don't come here for solitude or to be surrounded by people who treat the outdoors with kindness.
We hiked in and back in one day. A little over 20 miles from the truck and back. Our group was in good shape, but it was rough. There is a lot of up and down and elevation gain. I kept telling myself "soon you'll be at the beautiful springs!"
We arrived at the hot springs and we all looked at one another like "soooo.... THIS is what we are hiking 20 miles for?". Teeny tiny sulphur pools FILLED with algae (think long billowing aggressive algae). Super crowded. We had to wait for a little pod to empty out. I didn't want to get near them, except I knew my muscles probably needed it to make the 10 miles back. The springs were more of a tepid "I'm going to get a disease here" temp instead of hot.
I have done amazing hikes in big sur and surrounding areas. This was the least beautiful and completely underwhelming. We were hiking inland so I expected maybe something like big basin? Beautiful green forest and ferns and waterfalls. No. Brushy forest and an occasional creek crossing. We weren't even tempted to take photos along the way. The trail is super narrow so we were single-file the whole way and sang songs and chatted to pass the time. The only nice thing about this hike was the workout and being with friends. I wouldn't recommend to anyone.