Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Los Padres National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Epic bucket list hike.... went out with a bang! Always wanted to do an overnight hiking trip before my big 5-0 .... trail was no easy task (for me) but with the help of my daughter it was a success..... Not so much for one of our team mates who fell about 30ft down a revine and had to be airlifted out after my daughter was able to rescue her enough to get her back on the trail. Hats off #calfire #chp and the medical team.
I will definitely be back.

12 days ago

Very pretty! Not a very difficult hike -pretty flat. Road to the trailhead was closed so we parked and walked about a mile and a half to the trailhead. Has a couple trail signs along the way.

Nice leisure walk

21 days ago

I did this hike with my boyfriend for the first time this last Sunday. I would say the hike is a challenge due to the steady incline for 4 miles straight. We got some beautiful shots on our way up but I was disappointed in the view once we reached the top. I expected more. I won’t be putting in the effort to do this hike twice.

Great place. Easy quick hike. Waterfall was roarin after the rains. Tied a line to a tree across falls at the top n zip lined to the middle. Epic view. Can also climb on the top of the boulder in middle of water. There's a lil cave under that rock as well.

This hike was perfect for my family. The views are amazing and start almost immediately. Parking is limited and fencing is thin barbwire which was fine for everyone except my 3 year old.

This trail is easy to find and has plenty of parking right off HWY 1. The trail starts off with the waterfall only 200 yds from the parking lot. Next, switch backs take you up 800' revealing wild flowers and rock outcroppings. About a mile into the hike, we were stopped dead in our tracks by a mountain lion. Luckily it wasn't looking for dinner or a fight, and just warned us with a pronounced growl. We took a hint and turned around. I am looking forward to going back to complete the hike without interruption.

Hardest hike/ trip of my life! Went backpacking as the online reviews said it was moderately challenging. This hike is uphill for 10+ miles. NO shade for majority, and we had to carry all of our water. It took us like 8.5 hours to get up to happy hollow. There were some really sketchy bits too where you could easily fall down 50ft slopes. I would not recommend backpacking.

Great hike for day hikers and overnight hikers. Plenty of water there, easy drive from SLO

Not a trail that you can reach with out a map. There is no trail head and seems like the trail has be closed.

This was an amazing trail! Lots of different scenery and wild flowers are starting to bloom. However, be aware of poison oak too. We combined it with the Salmon Creek Waterfall trail. Went to the main waterfall first, which was beautiful! We then came back around to start this trail. The first .5 miles are a steady incline that’s a little strenuous, but the remaining parts of the trail to Estrella Camp are mostly a combo of level ground, some downhill, and couple more short uphill climbs. Many parts of this trail are on a narrow pathway/ledge when you get higher up, so watch your footing. At this time there is still the remnants of a large pine tree that fell directly on the main path right before getting to the Spruce Creek Camp. You will have to step through and over a wall of fallen branches and then climb over the large trunk. On the way to Estrella Camp from Spruce Camp, you are parallel to Salmon Creek and can hear the sound of flowing water. Very soothing. We also caught a glimpse of another waterfall through the trees. On the way back the views of the forest and ocean are great! Especially if you’re heading back down around sunset. Overall the hike for us ended up being more like 6.5 miles round trip. We did not camp overnight.

This trail is open, as are the majority of trails in the area

3 months ago

I’ve hiked this 5 times in the past few months to get in shape for bigger peaks. It’s tough, about 3 hours to summit at a good pace, but there’s views of the fort, King City, GreenField, Nacimiento Lake, and the Pacific.

Heavy brush at the top as of November 2017, but it’s not too difficult to get through. Just keep your eyes on the trail and always stick to the most worn trail.

Definite worth it if you have a day for it!

The trail was ok, not really up to stuff, but the scenery and freshwater makes up for it.

5 months ago

Once you get to the top, the views are gorgeous. Please be aware that I would NOT consider this an easy hike!!! Good luck and bring water!

if ttyyou like waterfalls this one is awsome

This is a beautiful area to hike. The trail is marked along the way and is generally well established. There is a bit of scrambling here and there. While we were there, there were not many other hikers. We did encounter some snakes so watch your step. Also, we did hear a bear not too far off of the trail at one point, so stay alert and stay on the trail.

This is a nice scenic trail. As other reviewers have said, there isn't as much coastal beauty as the Buckeye Trail, but it is nice in different ways. For one, there is a lot more water on this trail, as the Salmon Creek is alive and well, and the campgrounds along the way are pretty nice trail camps. Fall is pretty evident here with the leaves, but there is plenty of green and shade. The trail is easy to hike and well shaded, but seems to be more popular than the Buckeye, which is a tougher hike. Near the Spruce trail camp there is a fork, so you will want to go left for the Salmon Creek Trail, but I will be back to explore the Spruce Creek trail that branches off to the right at that point. Instagram @picbynathan

This is a good, scenic trail that has a lot of clean water from the Salmon Creek along the way. The trail and the camps are in good condition and mostly shaded along the way. The trail leads away from the coast, so you will not views of the coast like the Buckeye Trail, but it has a lot of beautiful backcountry views. Overall, it is a pretty easy hike that starts off pretty steep, but never has any really dramatic inclines after the first half mile. On Instagram @picbynathan

Backpacked the Lion Canyon Trail (which ends at a road weirdly enough) and explored the East Fork and West Fork camps. We camped at the West Fork, but some of the camping spots are over grown with thorny vines and fallen trees. Both water falls at the forks were dry, but we are excited to return after rain. West Fork had a bit of water, thus our reason for staying, but East Fork is the more stunning and spacious ground. Beautiful Canyon! Parts of the trails are slightly over grown, but didn't require any crazy bush whacking. LOTS OF POISON OAK! However, the wildlife was amazing! Owls, lizards, skunks, hawks, spiders, etc. There is also a connector trail to the Rose Valley Falls, which we understand to be spring fed, so that is worth checking out as well. We were almost completely alone for 48 hours, until three day hikers came to explore the East Fork Falls. We had the whole canyon to ourselves essentially! If you don't mind a few thorns in your socks, this place is definitely recommended,

Amazing hike. First Mile is switch backs and straight up hill. Bring water and at least an energy bar. Gets narrow at times so watch your footing, especially past the pools very narrow and sandy.

Could be a really nice trail, unfortunately some washouts about 5 miles in, just below the peak made it impassable. We climbed around two before deciding to head back. There was a sign warning that it was closed at the Ranger Station that we saw in the way out but no sign at the trailhead.

One of my favorites. once you get up the hill, really nice and easy.

mountain biking
7 months ago

Nice ride with gorgeous views of the valley. Easily completed in about 30-45 minutes on bike.

I loved this trail, it was gorgeous and everyone I met on the trail were very cool. Would have gave it 5 but it wasn't maintained as well as it could have been

Awesome trail. The opening climb might put you off a bit if you aren't prepared, especially if you start in the middle of the day. My girlfriend, two very old dogs and myself started about 945am, and made it to Spruce Creek Camp around noon. We had to stop to water the dogs about 4 times, and about 10-15 minutes at a time. Overall, not a strenuous hike, just bring lots of water if you have dogs! I purified about 7 liters of water at the camp site, and my pups drank about 6 Lts of it. We also gave some water to a few people on the trail who only had a small water bottle. It was about 90-95 in the sun, and several day hikers ran out of water. We saw a fair amount of traffic through Spruce Creek Camp. We had a super sweet spot right above the creek and the springs. Bugs weren't too bad. A lot of people going to the lower falls and the parking lot was packed full of cars when we came out of the trail. Overall, I'd love to come back without the old pups and do the hike up to South Ridge Road and come out one of the many connector trails, or venture down Spruce Creek Trail! The Split for Spruce Creek Trail and Salmon Creek Trail is at MGRS Grid 10S FE 4942 6577. I recommend you set that as a way point. You wont see the camp sites or much of the trail on Google Earth, so setting way points off that can be... difficult. Some of my WPs were up to 100 meters off what the trail actually turned out to be.

7 months ago

Pretty difficult hike with heavy backpacks. Lots of boulder scrambling, creek crossings, bush whacking and bears! Not much of a trail once you get in except for animal trails. Make sure to learn about the wildlife before venturing in. There are black bears, snakes, mountain lions, blackflies and many other critters. Would be an awesome hike without heavy packs. I believe they require an Adventure Pass to park.

8 months ago

Would not recommend this hike. There is an actual trail for about the first 1.5 miles and then it just disappears. Throughout the canyon, we had to improvise how to get through thick vegetation and boulder fields with no trail to guide us. We were exhausted after going about a mile per hour with the weight of our packs on our backs. There are better trails in this area to go on.

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