Explore the most popular hiking 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.

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
10 days 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
12 days 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.

hiking
2 months ago

Fun and saw nobody out there. Beautiful view.

on Highway 1 to Cone Peak

2 months ago

Feb 17-19, 2018.
*TONS OF POISON OAK*

This is a great first time backpacking trip. On presidents day weekend, we hiked in the five miles to Vicente Flat campground with all of our gear and set up camp. Definitely busy, but there's a ton of spots to set up tent. We were cozy with our neighbors, but everyone was polite. We left our camp set up and day hiked up to the peak just with day packs. Stayed at Vicente Flat Saturday night then hiked back out the 5 miles with our gear.

Despite it being February, I was wishing I was in shorts most of the time we were hiking, especially the 5 miles to and from Vicente Flat. It's pretty much all open, which allows for beautiful views of the coast but direct hot sun. This would be a pretty brutal hike in the summer. Even with warm days, we got a light dusting of snow at Vicente Flat Sunday morning, which was stunning.

We brought our medium sized Australian Shepherd, and saw a few other dogs throughout the weekend. The trail is pretty dog friendly, but I would recommend booties as a good amount of the trail is rocky, but totally doable for a relatively fit dog.

Overall, it was a really nice weekend trip. Beautiful view of the Big Sur coast, a nice mix of chaparral and redwoods, and Vicente Flat was a beautiful campsite.

backpacking
3 months ago

Nice trail, but very crowded.

Water:
The first stream is a couple of minutes past Espinosa Camp. The creek was dry at Vicente Flats, you need to hike up another 5 min to get to water. When you head up to Cone Peak, the last water was where the redwoods end. I did not see any sign of the spring mentioned in the trail description.

Camping:
There were easily 50+ tents at the Vicente Campground over president's day weekend. Lots of fun people, but not a lot of solitude if that's what you're looking for.

Hiking up to the peak:
Most people left their tents and stuff at Vicente and hiked up with a light pack, that way you could carry more water. I got up to the peak a bit after 10 and was alone there for almost a half hour before people started showing up. After 12 it got really crowded up there.

So we drove up using the directions from all trails and the final left hand turn to the trailhead the road was closed. So we ran into a couple that said you can start from the bottom at Kirk campground. They said they were “just shy of summit” and they turned around because it was getting late.

We hiked from the bottom and went 7 miles with no summit in sight hahaha. It was STUNNING. And I loved it but I think the distance is from the trail head we weren’t able to access at the time.

We parked at the bottom went for 7 miles (in about 3.5 hours. It is up hill. The elevation gain is real. But there are lots of straight seats too Andy the scenery is amazing!!

BEWARE OF TICKS. LOAD YOU AND YOU LR DOG WITH DEET! They were alllllllllll over.

I’d love to summit this thing but I think from the bottom it’s a multiple day hike. But def beautiful with ocean and redwoods!

Haven't gone on this trail, but just an FYI in response to Paul: on PublicLands.org it doesn't list any of the land as private

backpacking
4 months ago

Backpacking with two friends and a dog in mid November.
It Rained the day prior
Parking for about 15 cars maybe more at trailhead.

Overall medium high to low sun exposure throughout, with medium high to low poison oak as well.

Espinosa campsite is about 3.5 miles from trailhead and has Two available campgrounds

Vincente campsite is about 5 miles from trailhead and has Many available campgrounds

There is a River about 8.5 miles from trailhead, as well as a stream about 5 miles in

The Temperatures varied from sweating in shorts and sleeves rolled up during the day uphill to chilly mostly fully layered at night
Good for dogs
Some rowdy people when we were there.

Tried a there and back day hike, and the info is WAY off in regards to distance. We were running out day light and headed back. We ended up doing 12 miles and 4000+ feet of gain. So this hike is short of 15 miles, but totally worth it. We are planning on going back and starting a bit sooner. Would be ideal to do this in two days, so that you may enjoy the epic views.

Went with a group of all skill levels. Found it to be a very scenic day trip, with ocean views during the majority of it.

The last 6 Miles of the drive there is on a dirt road that may be difficult for vehicles with low clearance.

One the best scenic hikes in the Los Padres.

Trail was well maintained.

backpacking
4 months ago

Great 2-3 night trip. We camped atop Cone Peak and saw a beautiful sunset and sunrise (see pics above). Our trip in late December was uncrowded, but had no water above Vicente Flat. There is plenty of parking off HWY 1 for easy access.

hiking
4 months ago

I did this trail with my dog. it was a beautiful hike with amazing views. the trail was well-maintained and we didn't see a another person on the trail.

Beautiful hike with views of the mountains and the coast. Gradual climb along the cliffs. Very enjoyable.

Some unfriendly man told us the middle section was private property and even had to turn back and climb up through the national forest park of Los Padres. It ended up being great anyway, but overall not an advisable experience. Better climbing up directly from Tassajara Rd.

lovely views, be cautious of poison oak!

Trail was in great condition, the view from the top is incredible.

hiking
11 months ago

We did this hike last May. The switchbacks going up are a little rugged, but the views really are worth it. I saw some quail on the way up, and there were beautiful wildflowers all over. Definitely need to bring some water, most of the trail is out in the open. There are some cool car camping spots on the way up too, with their own awesome views.

backpacking
11 months ago

I was determined to hike the river until I saw some waterfalls and I did! It takes some serious scrambling to get to the bottom of it, but can be done cautiously and safely.

backpacking
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I love this trail so much, and would like to go back in a couple of weeks. Does anyone know if you can currently park your car next to the trailhead off HWY 1?

hiking
Saturday, February 04, 2017

I have hiked hundreds of trails. This is one of the best. The views along the way are amazing: from the waves in the Pacific to the snows near the top and anything in between.

It was a nice trail, but we lost it during the creek crossing. We must have crossed both creeks when we were only supposed to cross one? Sort of hard to follow the map there. Other than that, it was an easy ten miles

well it was about 18.8 miles long

hiking
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fantastic trail! Enjoy the drive up to the trail head. Park off the road and take the switchbacks up to the top at the look out tower. Absolutely stunning view of Big Sur and beyond. Bring your cameras!

hiking
Friday, September 20, 2013

The trail from the Carmel River to Miller Canyon Camp is clear and flagged. From Miller Canyon Camp to Jeffery Road below China Camp on the Tassajara Road the trail is flagged with some obstacles. If you lose the trail you should stop and find the flagging, one would think that the trail would follow the drainage but the trail is well away from the Miller drainage above Miller Canyon Camp. Miller Canyon is a beautiful little visited canyon, Thank you Ventana Wilderness Alliance volunteers for your work on Ventana Wilderness trails.

hiking
Friday, August 03, 2012

Pine Valley is a gem of the Ventana Wilderness, with huge grassy meadows, Ponderosa Pines, and sand stone cliffs. In the valley near the campsite there is a small cabin in a private inholding built by Jack English in 1978, Jack turned 93 in June 2012 and still lives in Pine Valley today. A great side trip is to hike down the stream (the head waters of the Carmel River) to Pine Valley falls. The hike to Pine Valley starts on the Pine Ridge trailhead at China Camp on Tassajara Road and is about five and one half miles to Pine Valley. The trail is moderately difficult into Pine Valley but strenuous returning to China Camp. You can day hike to Pine Valley but I recommend an overnight trip so you have time to explore the valley and falls.
Please leave no trace of your visit to the Ventana Wilderness.

camping
Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm going to start by saying that this mixed review has some very good parts to it, so please read on!

My friend and I started onto the Vicente Flat trail from Kirk Creek for a 3-day adventure into the Ventana Wilderness. The first 45 minutes of the trail were full of amazing views and moderate-to-strenuous switchbacks that may make any first-time backpacker a little weary right out the gate. It was the beginning of May for us and we hit the trailhead at around 5pm and made it to the first campsite about 2.5 mi in before sundown. We made camp at Espinoza, just deep enough in to rub elbows with the redwoods but still getting some peek-a-boo views of the ocean. There was a spring about 200 feet from the camp which made things a lot easier. Not a lot of deadwood around and what was around was pretty wet.

Next day we hiked into Vicente Flat camp, which was another 2 mi in and greener. We made camp right in the grove there and had a creek to draw all the water we needed from. Shaded and quiet, there was one other overnight group in the site, which we hadn't expected being there on a weekend.

That afternoon we set out for Cone Peak. All I can say is that while the view at the end was pretty spectacular, the journey up was aesthetically deficient. A brutal climb up and no water on the way so if you do make the trip, be sure to bring a couple canteens with you. Also the higher you get up, the drier it gets so there are ticks everywhere. Bring lots of repellent and/or cover up.

All in all an amazing time, but if I could do it all over again, I would have probably skipped Cone Peak and taken another shaded option.

hiking
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A friend and I just hiked the San Vicente trail back in September and it was gorgeous. It starts at Highway 1 and you gain elevation pretty quick but the views from above the fog looking into infinity are definitely worth it. We didn't quit make it to Cone Peak but the Vicente Flat campground is a nice little redwood grove about 5 miles in. Good day hike, or you can camp along the trail if you want to take it easy. Great experience overall!
It seems the trail we took isn't on the app tho :/ ...the trailhead is next to the campground that's nearby on Highway 1.

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