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Big Sur Ventana/SilverPeak Trailmap
with Camps, Water Sources, and Points of Interest
for wilderness explorers

Trail & camp locations on many maps of the Big Sur Ventana & Silver Peak Wilderness Areas are incorrect!  This Big Sur Trailmap provides accurate trail and camp locations based on local knowledge (GPS'd), and also locally-known "use trails", non-obvious water sources, waterfalls, and other features in Big Sur state parks and wilderness areas.  Updated weekly from local reports. 

Wilderness hikers take note:      You cannot assume a wilderness trail will be passable or followable!   more info
    Wilderness trail usability ↔ trailmap line width   more info
    Extreme drought ⇒ "perennial" water sources are drying up



To view map of wilderness trail conditions, click here
A good place to start if unfamiliar with the Ventana/SilverPeak wilderness

To view a "Gmap4" Quadrangle Trailmap,  click here
USGS quadrangle map provides context and terrain contours  (when zoomed in)

To view a "Google Maps" Shaded Terrain Trailmap,  click here
Sidebar useful when trail/camp location is unknown: expand sidebar, click on a name

To download single-page-printable Trailmap sections,  click here
Trailmap trails, camps, etc. are overlaid on a printable (PDF) USGS quadrangle map

To download a Trailmap link for your PC's "Google Earth",  click here
Saving this GE link to "My Places" will automatically load the latest trailmap at each GE start

To download a Garmin-format Trailmap for your Garmin GPS,  click here
Routable, so along-trail distances can be obtained as you hike

To use the Trailmap in a smartphone GPS app, click here
Multiple options exist, depending upon the app   (added Gmap4 option on 26 Sept)

  To compute route metrics between two locations, click here
  now with interactive trailmap   Gives mileage & cumulative elevation gain/loss



For trailmap legend information (displays line and icon symbols)click here

To search Big Sur geographic place name database (gives description and location map) click here

For quadrangle map display of a specific lat/lon OR section/township/rangeclick here

To download multiple individual trail, camp, or water GPX filesclick here
(Please note that a copyright restricts it to individual use, i.e. its data is not to be promulgated to a public source such as AllTrails or OSM.)

To create a user-specified route or location Google Maps webpageclick here

For Big Sur Map Collection (includes historical trail maps)click here

For Monterey County (not Big Sur) GoogleEarth/Garmin Map Collectionclick here

For thoughts on choosing a GPS for hiking, click here

For additional Big Sur links and information, hiking and non-hiking (Big Sur Chamber of Commerce)click here


Trailmap Notes:
Wilderness trail usability => trailmap line width :   Trails with VWA Trail Reports have differing widths for different segments depending upon the latest reported conditions, thicker meaning more usable.  (Based upon my parsing of latest reports, the widths range from 4 down to 1 for better to worse trail conditions.)  Please recognize that these ratings are rough as conditions may differ greatly along different sections of a trail - consult the VWA reports for detailed trail information, available as a link on a trail's info window popup.  When no reports are available, as for state park and use trails, the nominal widths are: trails = 3, usetrails = 2, "historic" trails = 1.  Ratings necessarily depend upon the latest reported conditions.  This is a "planning" feature so implemented only in the browser and GoogleEarth versions, not in single-page-printable and Garmin-format trailmaps.  Left-click on trail for a summary of its current condition and a link to the latest VWA trail report. 
Orange trail is a non-USFS "use trail"  (trail condition unknown)
Black trail/camp is "historic", i.e. no longer used
Tan campground has nearby public vehicular access (possibly 4-wheel-drive only)
Water information may be questionalbe during a severe drought year (duh!)

General Browser Usage Notes:
Mouse left click on trail/camp/etc displays feature info
Mouse drag moves map
Mouse wheel zooms in/out at cursor
Icon position not exact if two icons overlap (as icons then offset for better display)
Can get missing segments or icons if zoom in/out too quickly, before line/point re-draw has time to complete
If map loses trails or becomes otherwise confused, use browser "Reload" button
If info "bubble" is displayed, zoom-in will include bubble site (useful for forcing zoom-in to include desired location)
For Browser Printing:   use browser "File->Print Preview", adjust if necessary (often "Landscape" is better than "Portrait"), then click "Print"[sometimes, e.g. in older browsers, you must select Page 1 only for "Portrait" orientation or Page 2 only for "Landscape" orientation] 
For Google Maps Printing:   its "Print" link provides another printing option. 
For One-Page-Printable Quadrangle Map Sections:   click here
Note that available inkjet-printer-compatible synthetic papers are tear-resistant, grease-resistant, and water-resistant/proof (~50/90¢ per sheet) - one on-line source is Hi-Performance Papers

Gmap4-specific Usage Notes:
Backgrounds "Satellite", "Terrain", "USGS Topo", "MyTopo", and "Map" (ala Google Maps) are also available   (under top right "topo" menu)
The "MyTopo" quadrangle map background includes USFS trail and camp locations (but much is inaccurate!)  

GoogleMaps-specific Usage Notes:
Sidebar can be removed/added by clicking «/» at sidebar top-right
Backgrounds "Satellite" and "Map" also available (under "More" button)
"Terrain"/"Topo" backgrounds can only zoom in to a 1000/500 ft scale vice the 50 ft scales of "Satellite" and "Map"
Green GM National Forest area does not depict in-holdings within the National Forest
Mouse left double-click on map centers and zooms in on that location
For lat/lon info: in "My Maps" (Google Account required) click "New", enable "Lat/Lng Marker", and "Save changes" - then right-mouse-click on map gives option to place marker with location's lat/lon
You can direct Google Maps to many geographical features by typing a name such as "Cabezo Prieto" into the search entry box at top center.  Apparently this works for all features named on a USGS topo map.  Entering a partial name can also produce useful results, e.g. "Doolans Hole" is not in the database but will be found if entered because "Doolans Hole Creek" is in the database.  Adding ", CA" will limit the results to California.  And entering a latitude+longitude (in a format known to GM) will direct GM to that location. 
Trail metrics data can be cut off by or extend beyond the "bubble" which pops up when a trail is left-clicked - this is a Google Maps problem

GoogleEarth-specific Usage Notes:
Website trail/camp/etc GPX file downloads broken:   Google Earth has now added an internal browser, which instead of saving a GPX file download from this website as a normal browser would, will try (unsuccessfully!) to display it in GE, even if you try to defeat this behavior by enabling the "Show web results in external browser" option.  To download a trail/camp/etc GPX file, you must instead use one of the Big Sur Trailmap options which opens directly in a browser or use the GPX file download webpage.
Note that Google Earth can also display quadrangle topo maps as a background - for instructions on installing and using them see Adding Topographic Enhancements to Google Earth
You can "fly" Google Earth to many geographical features by typing a name such as "Cabezo Prieto" into the "Search/FlyTo" entry box.  Apparently this works for all features named on a USGS topo map.  Entering a partial name can also produce useful results, e.g. "Doolans Hole" is not in the database but will be found if entered because "Doolans Hole Creek" is in the database.  Adding ", CA" will limit the results to California.  And entering a latitude+longitude (in a format known to GE) will "fly" GE to that location. 
Note that while Google Earth will directly read GPX files, it also filters them by eliminating some points.  So if you download the tracklog from your GPS directly to Google Earth, the full detail of your track will not be displayed.  But GE does not filter Google-Earth-format files.  If you wish to see all recorded GPS points, you can use the free gpsBabel software to both download the tracklog from your GPS and convert it to a GE-format KMZ file for loading into GE.  Alternatively, you can use Garmin's BaseCamp or MapSource software to download the tracklog and then use gpsBabel to convert that file into a KMZ file. 

GPS Notes:
Garmin GPS users can obtain free, high-resolution (quadrangle-quality) contour line maps covering California by using the download and instructions at California Topo Map webpage [NB: A note on that download page recommends using a newer map, but I do NOT recommend that for the Big Sur area.  The plethora of additional information the newer map includes is seldom useful and clutters up the small screen, making the contour lines harder to read.  It also displays intermittent streams more boldly than perennial streams!  And finally, it highlights its often incorrect "trail" lines, which are often misleading and more harmful than helpful.  Trails in the older file use the same data so can also be misleading, but they are thin dashed lines which are easier to ignore.].  But note that its "trails" (thin dashed lines) are often inaccurate and best ignored.  For hiking in Big Sur, use the Garmin-format Big Sur Ventana/SilverPeak Trailmap since it has accurate trail and camp locations in addition to contour line data. 
USGS NED 1/3-arcsec elevations have been added to all gpx files


Disclaimer: the provided information is believed the best available but can contain errors. 

If you have something to contribute or find an error, you can send an email to Jack Glendening at: or post to the Trailmap Forum.  Trail corrections will be credited. 

About the site creator

Copyright:
The information and data on this website are copyrighted by John W. Glendening.  You may freely search, view, download and print the documents and information contained on this site for personal and non-commercial purposes.  This information is provided 'as is', without any warranty of any kind.  GPX file copyright