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Kirk Creek Campground to Vicente Flat Trail

HARD 136 reviews
#1 of 21 trails in

Kirk Creek Campground to Vicente Flat Trail is a 10.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Big Sur, California that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 10.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,595 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

views

no dogs

Directions from San Luis Obispo, CA: Take Highway 1, 80 miles north of San Luis Obispo or 35 miles south of the community of Big Sur.

hiking
bugs
11 days ago

Great trail with even better views. Saw a humpback breach early on. However, the swarming black flies made the hike almost unbearable.

hiking
19 days ago

leave as early as you can! aka, at least 7 am. its an amazing, fairly well maintained trail that brings ya views and a good sweat. Got pretty warm on the way down, but we were thankful we weren't just starting the hike at 11:30 am.

hiking
20 days ago

Pleasant moderate hike. It is very convenient if camping at Kirk Creek campground. View of ocean in the beginning of the trail is great.

backpacking
bugs
1 month ago

Did this hike last weekend for a one night backpacking trip. It was a really nice trail. Great views on the first half of the ocean and coast. And in and out of shade most of the way. Moderate uphill the first 3.5 ish miles. Wouldn’t classify it as “hard” though. I agree with others on here that it should probably be “moderate”. There is toonnss of poison oak along the trail so I definitely recommend long pants for the hike. There is a spring with amazing water just past Espinosa Camp (about 3.4 miles in from the trail head). You can’t miss it, you have to walk right over the spring on the trail. We filtered the water with aquatabs but honestly it was so fresh and tasted so good. There were a ton of flies. Particularly at Vincent’s Flats camp, but also a bit along the trail after you turn inward away from the coast. They were really swarming at the campground though. Not biters. Just annoying. The redwoods at the camp are beautiful. And on the Friday night we were there it was fairly quiet with a lot of privacy between camps. We saw many more people heading up there on Saturday as we were going down though. Glad to have done it when it was a bit less people. The water at Vincente Flats wasn’t flowing as much as at the spring on the way up. There was water there, but more stagnant and not as good tasting. So I recommend filling up at the spring as much as you can for the night. Would do it again. It was a nice out and back to get out in nature for the weekend :)

camping
1 month ago

Lovey trail. We didn’t start until 5:00 because of traffic and it took 2.5 hours to get to the second campground just in time to pitch a tent. Hike through the clouds then walk through brush until right around Espinoza camp about 1.5 hours in then about 1 more hour of flat walking in the trees. Camp was clean and busy but not full. There was a stream. Views were awesome especially on the way down. Highly recommend.

hiking
1 month ago

beautiful, should not be classified as hard. very crowded on the weekend with day hikers and campers.

hiking
2 months ago

Super fun trail! Although it was pretty easy for my boyfriend and I! Beautiful views- which is probably why its so popular!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful views of ocean at beginning, nice redwood groves to see every mile or so. It is uphill for first 2+ miles. There is a lack of shade for approx half of hike. There is poison oak and bugs. I didn’t find ticks, but I am sure there are around.

backpacking
3 months ago

Fabulous! we had a wonderful time, me and 6 other backpackers. We all agreed, we'll do this again :)

hiking
3 months ago

Views, flowers, steep drops and redwoods

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail with beautiful views. Completed this trail about 5 years ago and just came back out 5/31 and stayed for the first time. Wildflowers are in full bloom! The beginning is fairly exposed so start early or check the weather to make sure you have ample cloud coverage. The marine layer was pretty thick giving us ample coverage almost to Espinosa camp. From there the trail has a moderate shade coverage. There are a number of really great campsites but it does get fairly busy - nearly every campsite is full. Based on previous reviews I expected to see a ton of trash but surprisingly it was not bad. We brought gloves to pack out others discarded waste and there was not much to be found. Edit: wrote the on a Friday morning by Sunday morning areas of the camp were littered with toilet paper. Please leave no trace and pack your waste and if you are able kindly help pack out what others have left behind. Always bring rubber gloves!!!

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing ! Highly recommend

hiking
3 months ago

Highly recommend, even though the trail was especially busy/crowded on Saturday. (Memorial Day weekend) Beautiful wildflowers and views of Big Sur, variety of landscapes to see. I wouldn’t call this difficult, but I would say give it enough time to get through. Hiking boots and long pants needed as there is a bit of poison oak in places.

hiking
3 months ago

Vicente Flat Trail head is a difficult climb from Highway 1 but totally do-able if you take it slow and take lots of breaks. It is a five mile hike to Vicente Flats Campground, three miles going up along the Pacific Coast then two miles east (inland). Once you arrive to Vicente Flats Campground there are plenty of water sources around the camp (we went May 0f 2019). To anyone else planning a first time trip to Vicente Flats- Arrive early as all the good spots gets taken early in the day. But there are plenty of spots for all. If you are a social hiker you will like this camp ground as this place has a good water source so it is highly used and trafficked. Bring mosquito repellent and a head net.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful long but gently graded climb with gorgeous views of the ocean and coastline. Once you turn inland, most of the elevation gain is behind you, but it's about two more miles to the Vicente Flat Campground. There is one other campground along the way - Espinoza - but it doesn't have much room for big or multiple groups. Vicente Flat has many camp sites, but is VERY impacted from many years of heavy use.

Started at highway 1 at Kirk Creek and camped at Vicente. We made that our base camp. As of 5/14, Vicente had plenty of water and the trail from H1 to camp was littered with wildflowers. Goat camp, Espinosa and Trail Spring all had water nearby or through camp. The Stone Ridge Loop portion from Vicente was amazing. We hiked it counter-clockwise. The trail covered so many different types of terrain ad ecosystems...One of the most diverse I've ever done. It started to get pretty overgrown after we got past Goat Camp, but it was far from un-manageable; a lot of poison oak, so be wary. For us, the overgrown trail made it more fun and unique and interesting but it also slowed down our pace quite a bit. Add at least an hour, more likely two to your normal pace to account for overgrown trail, epic views, and caution for poison oak. Highly suggest doing the trail the same direction we did...I can't imagine going up that section near Goat. BRING BUG SPRAY.

hiking
5 months ago

10 mile hike--great ocean views.

Wow. This hike beat last weeks hike on Buckeye trail which we were impressed with. Very memorable. Has so much to offer. Ocean views for quite a stretch, big red woods, friendly campers, many streams to cross but very doable to hop the rocks and logs with a pole. Parking along highway a bit stressful. There are many spots that do fill up so best to come early.

great hike. steady climb with amazing views, wildflowers, and a redwood groove with a beautiful creek as a reward.

hiking
6 months ago

Wonderful trail. Beautiful views (weather dependent). Vicente flat is outstanding “middle of the woods” camping. Lots of space, fire wood and water. Past the campsite is more beauty coupled with multiple creek crossings. Suggest starting early to avoid the direct sun on the uphill climb. On the way back, old-man knees started to get a bit cranky on the downhill. Not enough to take the joy out of things, but they were talkin.

hiking
6 months ago

One water source about 3.5-4 miles into the hike, and plenty of water at the creek at Vicente Flats. The campsites are great, very peaceful and the sound of running water is everywhere. Took 3 hours to get to the campground, and about 1.5-1.75 hours to get back. Much of the hike in is exposed, so bring some headgear on a sunny day. Given enough time and enough breaks, most everyone should be able to do this hike. The start is demanding but you can take it nice and slow. Most of the way the trail is about 1-1.5 persons wide. There are a few excellent break spots in the shade. You'll feel great when you get to the end. Didn't have any tick trouble and the trail was pretty clear of poison oak as well. Plenty of dead wood at the camp site.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike with great view!

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike. The view was amazing.

Beautiful views, fun hike, lots of groups camped at Vicente Flats, and lots of ticks :p There’s a water source about 3.5 miles in, and also at the Flats.

hiking
7 months ago

fairly steep trail with amazing views all along the way. managed to get all the way up and back down in 2 hours.

8 months ago

Great hike, the trailhead is easy to find. Amazing views

backpacking
8 months ago

Great hike! Mostly clear well defined trail with only a few logs to hop over. Vicente campground has plenty of water with about 8 campsites to choose from between up the creek and in the actual flats. The turn off to Goat Camp could be easily missed because there isn't a sign- but it is in the open green meadow on the west side closest to the creek.

backpacking
8 months ago

The trail was nice - gorgeous views; however, people have trashed the Vicente Flat area. There are “TP flowers” everywhere - especially in all of the hollowed out trees. People need to educate themselves on what Leave No Trace means....truly sad. Once you get passed Vicente Flat and more into the backwoods, it gets better though.

10 months ago

Great

backpacking
11 months ago

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!

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