Explore the most popular birding trails in Ventana Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
7 days ago

Fantastic trail. Went from H1 to Cone Peak Summit in a day. It was about 12 miles all uphill. Make sure to get water at the first camp because the spring on the San Antonio trail is dry and very overgrown as of October 13, 2018. Great views all the way. I camped on the Firewatch station with my one person ten, the station helped reduced the amount of wind. Don't sleep at the summit without a tent, years of people leaving their food/ trash up there has caused a rat problem at night. Other then that I cant wait to go back.

backpacking
7 days ago

Fantastic trail. Went from H1 to Cone Peak Summit in a day. It was about 12 miles all uphill. Make sure to get water at the first camp because the spring on the San Antonio trail is dry and very overgrown as of October 13, 2018. Great views all the way. I camped on the Firewatch station with my one person ten, the station helped reduced the amount of wind. Don't sleep without a tent, years of people leaving their food/ trash up there has caused a rat problem at night. Other then that I cant wait to go back.

Did this trail as my first backpacking trip with 5 friends who also were first or 2nd timers. It was a tough trail due to almost 2,000ft incline right from the trailhead. Not being used to heavy packs made it a long arduous task. It was still fun though and amazing views of Big Sur Wilderness! After the initial mountain climb it levels out to Vicente flat redwood creek basin. The way back was nice and easy seems like the water is flowing year round in a few places nearby and along the trails. Stop and fill up if You pass water!

hiking
16 days ago

Scenery: 3
Views: 4
Difficulty: 3
Crowds: 2
Shade: 1

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

backpacking
17 days ago

I like to start here for the pine ridge trail

hiking
1 month ago

I day hiked this trail yesterday. i must say it’s one of the most challenging hikes i’ve done to date. the real challenge starts right after you get to Vicente Flat campgrounds. The views at the fire lookout is worth every single step. If you’re looking to train in distance and elevation gain for Mount Whitney, i recommend doing this hike. i did Whitney twice this year already, trust me :) Last but not least, being more than 3L of water on a hot day.

Great views. This time of year they are a bit harder to see due to the all day lingering of the marine layer, which is normal for this time of year. Come in the spring months and you get better views, the marine layer burns off and the water along the coast is turquoise as a result of the sun getting to it.. If you camp at Vicente Flats, there is water up or down that creek bed, just follow it either way for about 10 mins and you will find running water.
Great hike. I'll be coming back in the spring.

Only negative is there are a lot of people crapping, not burying their crap an toilet paper or packing packing the tp out.... just tossing it in the shrubbery.... that was not very scenic. Bury your crap and pack out your trash!

backpacking
2 months ago

Easy parking at Kirk creek trailhead. Trail was relatively well maintained (by big sur standards), overgrown in some places, some poinson oak but we wore shorts and did not have a problem. The first few miles were shrouded in clouds and comfortably cool until we got above the cloud line a few miles in. There was a stream flowing just past Espinoza, no waterfall Vicente Flat, but a stream less than half a mile past it. We camped at Vicente flat, which was not crowded on a Saturday. The temperature was lovely under the redwoods but there were abundant (albeit not biting) bugs. We got up early the next day and day hikes to Cone Peak, getting there by 1015AM and had decent shade on the way up. Amazing views from the top, with some shade. All in all great hike! Look forward to returning in the fall.

backpacking
2 months ago

*As of August 10th, 2018 there was no water at the falls or next to the second Ojitos camp

Started at the coast in Limekiln State Park and followed the Twin Peak/Cone Peak Loop. Camped at the first Ojitos Camp which was definitely an adventure to get down. Poison oak everywhere, but never really that hard to get along the path without touching it. ~10-15 trees to climb over or under. Campground could fit up to 2-3 tents optimistically but a nice place to stay the night and no one around. Water disappears and reappears as you make your way to the falls along the creek bed (perhaps the coolest part of the hike), but falls were completely dry. It wasn’t too hard to get to the base of them (path off to the left), but we decided not to continue onwards.

Flies were prevalent anytime there was light in the sky, but after the sunset they disappeared almost immediately and they didn’t really bite, just wanted to climb up your nose. Mosquitos around only near twilight and early morning. Would definitely do again to check out the waterfall in the spring.

I had an amazing time backpacking this trail with my brother. Spent one night camping at Vicente Flats and a second night camping on Cone Peak. It’s not necessary to camp for 2 nights but it’s certainly worth it as the view of the Milky Way at night from the peak is breathtaking.

Lots of the trail is exposed to the sun and MUCH hotter than we expected from the weather report of Big Sur. This made it difficult for my dog, but not dangerous for her. Something to think about if you’re taking your furry friend.

Even in the middle of August there were water sources before Vicente and at. The creek bed in Vicente is dry but if you hike down it you will find water. Once you move beyond this point water becomes limited and there is absolutely none on the Cone Peak trail. I would suggest not hiking to the top unless you’re carrying at least a gallon per person and a little extra for your dog.

Overall this hike is incredible, Vicente Flats is breathtaking, and the views from Cone Peak are worth it. I would definitely do this hike again.

Absolutely no trail signs in the entire park. Gorgeous views that are well worth it, but be prepared to face some confusion and frustration along the way, especially if planning an overnight backpacking trip. Breathtaking views of the ocean, but definitely wouldn’t recommend for the faint of heart. Very thin, relatively unmaintained trail carved into the side of various mountains right above the ocean. Spectacular but terrifying at times.

backpacking
2 months ago

Just finished this trail as an overnight backpacking trip. Would rather recommend doing this in the spring or fall. Summer’s too hot and the trail’s mostly exposed. Bring lots of sunblock. Creeks we’re running and got to filter some water. Stayed at Vicente Flats for the night. This is definitely a butt-kicker with a pack. Could be done as a day hike but start early.

backpacking
2 months ago

Super overgrown trail. Did this with two other people... we are shocked that none of us have poison oak or ivy as we had to dive through quite a few of those bushes to stay on the trail. Parts of the trail are washed out, be careful. Pack lots of water if you’re doing this in the summer months. I had a water filter and thankfully we came across one river that was still flowing. Vincente flat campground is completely dry right now and tons of flys and bugs. Just be cautious if you pick this trail, and be prepared.

Beautiful dense trees once you finally arrive at Vicente flats. There is no water or signs to let you know you have arrived at Vicente flats. We kind of lost the trail for come peak when we went looking for a place to set up camp in Vicente flats.

We headed up on a Friday at 12:17 and was hit with lots of sun. The hike up could of been planned a lot better but, the views were just beautiful and took our mind off of the uphill hike with our 35lb packs for our age and circumstances I think we did just fine. Took us about 4hrs to reach Vicente flats.

We hit Espinoza camp first and next was the creek. We were so was so happy to find the small creek along the way, it was very refreshing.

When we arrived at Vicente flats about 3 miles up from the creek there wasn’t anyone there besides 1 small group, the next day heading out so many backpackers passed us. Some looked exhausted and not prepared and still had at least 4 Miles to go. I hope they all did well. Please bring plenty of water and bug repellent for those pesky flies!!!

Lots of poison oak everywhere so wear long pants or be like me and get it on your legs, thanks goodness I didn’t have a - bad reaction besides rashes.

Go do yourself a favor and get yourself some hiking poles, they def made the difference and kept me steady on those narrow trails with my heavy pack on.

For the girl we saw hiking by herself with the satchel & basic backpack, you are my hero!! Looks like she hiked all over that moutain by herself! Way to go!!!

Oh one more thing - you can park at the bottoms of trail head we had no problem

backpacking
3 months ago

Spectacular views, wildflowers, very well maintained trails. I backpacked for 3 days and did about 10 miles a day. I parked on Highway 1 across from Kirk Creek campground and backpacked to Vicente flats on night 1. Great, big open camping areas under the redwoods with stone rings for fires. Day two I stayed at Ojito camp. Don’t do it. It sucks. There are several places to camp along the trail that are not on the map that would have been better. As of July 4, there were a few creek crossings where you can get fresh water. Wouldn’t have made it otherwise.

backpacking
3 months ago

*no water at vicente*

We hiked in planning to either camp at Vicente or get water there and continue to cone peak. The hike to Vicente was gorgeous - ocean views most of the way and wildflowers all along the trail. There was a small stream right by Espinosa camp almost 4 miles in.

We reached Vicente on 6/9/18 and the stream/creek was bone dry. There was no water at any nearby streams. There were also big bee hives and lots of bees at the camp. We decided after looking for water for an hour or so to camp at Espinosa and refuel at the stream. It was beautiful there with ocean views and very quiet. There were a lot of gnats at dusk and dawn. The hike down the next morning was quick and shaded - we started out around 8am. It’s a beautiful hike.

Oh also beware of poison oak! I was spared but my boyfriend is covered. Careful about putting your pack in the brush.

It's straight up from the sea to Espinoza campsite, took us almost three hours to there, with overnight packs and being a bit out of shape. Beautiful views of the shore and mountains. From there to Vicente Flats took another 45 minutes at a brisker pace, that section being much flatter. I wore shorts and didn't get poison oaked, since it was not overhanging the trail much, and I kept my eyes open to sidestep it. Vicente Flats is a great campground, a few bugs, but tall redwoods and lovely setting. Hung our food from a tree on account of mice and chipmunks. There was water from a brook just uphill from Espinoza camp, also water at the creek at Vicente, and if you hike past Vicente on the trail to Cone Peak Road there were multiple stream crossings within a half mile of the campground (July 2018). Next day hiked up the very steep trail to the road. I sat under an oak tree on the road while my pal summited Cone (3 hours round trip from road to Cone summit), but bring water if you're doing Cone, he found none on the way up there.

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked this trail on the Fourth of July and were surprised to only see one other hiker the entire day. The trail is in good shape, although it crosses a few active slides in places and you'll want to watch your footing. There is a lot of poison oak along the first mile of the trail, but it's easily avoided. Views from the summit are spectacular! We took an extended break at the old lookout and watched the fog starting to burn off below us, revealing views straight down to the Highway 1 bridge at Limekiln State Park.

Astounding views, steep but reasonably graded; be careful with footing as exposure towards the peak is steep. Cool chance to see rareSanta Lucia firs towards the peak, as well.

We hiked from the trailhead indicated by alltrails up to cone peak and then down to the Ojito campsite where we stayed the evening. The trail down to the camp was pretty steep (~800ft elevation over about a mile) and had a lot of poison ivy. This time of the year the flies got pretty bad, so make sure to bring insect repellant.
The creek by Ojito campsite had some awesome pools to swim in, and we brought filters to fill back up on water. The hike out the next morning was a bit more climbing. Despite the bugs, it was an awesome trip with some great views.

strenuous 1 day ascent to summit from hwy 1 (took 8 hrs), overnight under the stars, spectacular views and stargazing, about 1/2 time for descent next day, worth the work. lots of poison oak but with long pants and sleeves have managed not to get a rash.

Great hike with awesome views. Note– the last couple miles of driving to the trailhead has some big bumps that made for some close calls in our Audi A4 hatchback. We made it out unscathed, but there were some sketchy moments. There were other non-SUVs up there too, so you wouldn't be alone, and you definitely would come across help after a 15 minutes max should you have a problem.

This was a nice length. We stopped for lunch at the top for 20 mins or so. Roundtrip total with stops for views, food, flowers and lizards, give yourself about 2.5 hours just to be safe!

backpacking
5 months ago

We started at Vincente Trailhead and walked counter clockwise. The diversity of terrain, plants and views is huge.

Early May there was lots of water at Vincente Flat, Goat Camp and Trail Spring.

Shortly before Stone Ridge Trail there were four options of trails. Take the second right if you want to make it to Goat Camp. That’s the right way of Stone Ridge Trail to come to Goat Camp and water.

We added a hike to Surprise Falls. Very steep and a 3 mile walk through the river. Only with water shoes recommended.

backpacking
5 months ago

We started at Vincente Trailhead and walked a counter clockwise loop to the fall. 20 miles, 2 days. The diversity of terrain, plants and views is huge. Redwoods, oaks, blooming Yuccas, meadows, creeks, views, views, views.

Early May there was lots of water at Vincente Flat, Goat Camp, Ojito Camp and Trail Spring.

Shortly before Stone Ridge Trail there were four options of trails. Take the second right. That’s the right way of Stone Ridge Trail to come to Goat Camp and the next water. We camped on Gamboa Trail at the entrance to the downhill walk to Ojito Camp. After 8 hours we avoided the climbing with the backpacks and wanted the views to the ocean. One tent-side is there. Next day we just took water bottles and some food with us to hike to the fall. It’s strenuous. You really need water shoes for the 2 miles through a river. With the dogs and no rope for us no chance to climb down the fall, but a bath on top was possible.

After that river hike the climbing to Cone Peak hurt, but all in all every single pain was absolutely worth it.

Hiked from Nacimiento-Fergusson rd, as Coast Ridge rd is still closed, making it about 16 miles round trip if you believe the signs. The views are fantastic and despite the road being closed, the road and trail were well maintained. Distance aside (12 of the 16 miles), the road to the trailhead is flat and easy. Last mile on the trail is all switchbacks with lots of exposure, which makes the shade at the fire lookout up top, coupled with some amazing panoramic views, feel euphoric. Glad to have been here to celebrate earth day.

Beautiful views along the entire hike and lots of poison oak as others have mentioned. Wear pants if you are sensitive to it because it is pretty much impossible to avoid. There is only one tiny stream along the way so bring enough water to get you the 5 miles to Vicente flats.
There are a lot of campsites and it was nearly empty on the Tuesday I stayed. Only a few other campers so I found a great site along the creek. The rushing water drowned out most of the sounds of the forest so it was quite serene and peaceful. The sites are all in a pretty dense redwood forest so there is almost total shade all day.
Mosquitos were active near dusk but didn’t last too long.
Overall, a great short backpacking trip in the Ventana Wilderness.

Gorgeous area. Poison oak is thick along a good portion of the trail, many times growing into the trail so that you have to maneuver over or around it. The trail is only wide enough for one way traffic, so at times you may have to move over into the poison oak. So beware. We arrived on Thursday at 12:30 pm and found one of the last available parking spots alongside Hwy 1. The trail is steep, right from the beginning, and for the majority of the way to Vicente Camp. The views are incredible, from multiple different spots. Many flowers along the way. The campground was not too crowded. We could not hear anyone talking, over the sound of the rushing creek. Very serene and beautiful spot.

The trail is in good condition and the walk overlooking the ocean is spectacular. There are six trees across the trail, one is a “Killer Tree” which I flagged with killer tree flagging, when passing under this tree avoid touching it or spending any time in the vicinity near the tree. I plan to bring in a crosscut saw next week and clear the trees. The campsites at Vicente Flat were very clean and not much toilet paper around the campsites, everyone seems to be OK with packing out their toilet paper.
Please practice Leave No Trace when visiting our public lands.
Check the Ventana Wilderness Alliance web site for up to date trail conditions. http://www.ventanawild.org

Beware Poison Oak!
A great hike along steep exposed hillsides and deep redwood filled creek draws, climbing up to a very nice stand of redwoods with several backpack campsites. There are some trails marked on ca state park maps that show the trail from limekiln state park connecting to this trail but that trail is unmaintained and full of windfalls and erosion from 2007 fire damage. Great views of the coastline and the extremely steep canyon of Hare creek and Limekiln creek below towering Cone peak. You can proceed to Cone Peak from Vicente Flat or turn around and go back to Kirk Creek campground. It was 55 degrees and sunny on February 22 with a light breeze. There is another campsite about 3 miles in that looks out at the ocean. Condors flew overhead and great sunset views over the ocean horizon made this an unforgettable day hike!

hiking
7 months ago

Fun and saw nobody out there. Beautiful view.

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