Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Big Sur with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

*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.

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
21 days 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

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.

Lovely trail, too bad it burned. Hope to go back soon to see how the forest is recovering. We camped at Barlow Flats and it was perfect...

backpacking
1 month ago

Loved this trail. Amazing views and challenging terrain. If you choose to go up the right side of the loop, beware of the rigorously steep terrain and also there is absolutely no water until you descend half way down cone peak down the other side of the loop. I packed in 2 gallons and still ran out 2 hours prior to reaching cone peak. Along the left side of the loop there is a water spring about every hour or so and it is a much easier path to take. I started my hike at midnight on Sunday and camped 2,100 ft up the trail just above the fog. Started at it again at 0900 that morning and made it back to the bottom by 21:00 Monday night. Planned on staying another night but getting dehydrated on the right side of the loop really took away all my desire to camp. Hope this post helps future backpackers!

This was one of my favorite hikes while living in California. With that said, the crowds had clearly taken a toll, so I'm actually hoping the closure means it will be relatively inaccessible for a considerable time. This place needs time to heal.

The Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes is closed indefinitely. Locally we hear 2-5 years. While this is a bummer for everyone, please understand that Sykes and the backcountry of Big Sur deserves a much needed break. For years, Sykes got crushed. Damming, Trash, Fire, and Destruction were the norm. Im not an Environmentalist, Conservation No one should be in the Backcountry Purists. I am a local Big Sur resident who advocates for the backcountry, because she has no voice. The Volunteer Wilderness Rangers are out on patrol, and if necessary can call USFS to escalate. There are many other trails listed here on this site. You can get into the backcountry, but for a while, it cannot be through the Pine Ridge Trail. lovebigsur.com

Has anyone gone on this trail while closed??

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.

Did this years ago, before GPS.
I remember how sore I was and how quiet. I'm sure it's much more used now.

My friends and I hiked this for a multi-day camping trip in April '16. This was the first time I had ever been on an overnight hike. It was grueling at times and I would NOT recommend it for a first timer who is out of shape. The only reason I did fine on this hike was that I upped my fitness level a little in the weeks prior to the hike (simply by going for daily long walks). The one member of our party who hadn't hiked in a long time and who was totally out of shape had a really, really tough time. There is a lot of up and down, at times pretty steep, and you hit the ups pretty early in the hike. It being my first hike, I couldn't conceive of how hard that would be with a 50+ pound pack!

Having said that, it was a spectacular hike. It was raining most of the time, which we expected, but it was mainly a constant drizzle/mist which made the experience and the views really, really nice. The rain caused a couple of minor hazards, but nothing serious (just have to watch you footing more carefully). Had it been dry and warm, it would have been exponentially harder. Whenever they open this up again, if this is your first overnight hike, I would recommend going in late April (that's when we went) or early May for cooler temps and the chance for some rain (yes, personally, I prefer a little precip on this kind of hike). Also, if your level of fitness is low or non-existent, I'd at least do some daily light cardio for 2-3 weeks prior to your trip.

Again, this is a spectacular hike and I found it to be very rewarding to complete, on a personal level. Most of our party were experienced hikers, most of whom had done this hike before. The hot springs can be a nice reward, even though most of my party was more excited about that than I was, but I think it's worth a soak after such a long hike. The trail was rather busy, which surprised me for such a long hike, but I actually liked seeing and talking to so many folks on such a lengthy and difficult hike. Somehow, I found that that camaraderie made the hike easier (and that's coming from someone who is typically anti-social).

This is a long and at times grueling hike. But it is also beautiful and rewarding and is well worth the effort. I'd definitely do it again and hope to someday.

backpacking
3 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
3 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.

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.

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

Is this hike back open yet ! =))

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.

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!

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.

This trail was great. We started around 11am and made it to the end around 4pm. We stopped to take a lot of pictures and took a few breaks along the way too. The views were amazing and the weather was perfect. The first part takes you along a ridge heading north then the next half or so takes you through redwoods and past creek passings. There were places to filter water at the campsites but we had to do a bit of walking to find the running water. The only reason this trail didnt get five stars from me was because it was a bit more crowded than most other "moderately trafficked" trails I have been on. There were so many people we were wondering if there was some 3 day weekend of government holiday that we had spaced on. There wasn't, there just happened to be almost 30 other campers across the campgrounds. Now normally this would completely ruin the illusion of being out on my own while backpacking resulting in a worse rating but the saving grace was that the sites where you could camp were huge and really spread out. From where you first walk in to the campground to the spot we ended up picking it was almost a .75 miles away. So while crowded, we didn't have to deal with other people to much. All in all this trail was great and I'm sure I'll be back in the future.

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

I did this hike with a group of friends of varying backpacking experience back in 2011 when we were all juniors in high school. This may have been at the peak of its popularity before the fires, and as luck would have it, the springs were VERY crowded, and they are all very small and intimate. It was a really great bonding experience, and for the less outdoorsy friends, it really opened their eyes to the magic of getting somewhere worthwhile on your own two feet. Unexpectedly gnarly up and down the entire way; my ankles were done by the time we got to camp! You can hike out in two days if you need by sleeping at a camp that is about halfway. Definitely a formative experience for me as an outdoors lover. However, I’ll admit looking back that this is one of the less impressive and beautiful hikes in the area of Big Sur. While this trail is being fixed up, I encourage you to explore more of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wildernesses! Who knows, maybe more natural hot water is hiding out there... Remember to practice LEAVE NO TRACE principles! Hike prepared!

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.

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!

This trail is closed indefinitely-lots of mudslide damage.

Closed till further notice. All trails should update asap. #cobrahikingclub

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