Big Sur Trailmap logo
Big Sur Backpacking Suggestions

        Related links:   Big Sur hiking basics   Wilderness places to visit   Wilderness tours   Printed maps   Trail Conditions Map

        Updated October 21, 2018:   All routes are viable but some are brushy (notably some sections on the loop hikes) and so require more experience/preparation


Ventana Wilderness backpacking suggestions from Betsy MacGowan, Ventana wilderness doyenne:

When planning fall/winter/spring a hike consider the weather and how much rain might have fallen.  Fall is a great time for river hikes, or anywhere that requires driving on a dirt road, since creek crossings are easy and roads are driveable. Winter and spring are great times for the ridge trails. 

And be sure to check latest trail conditions for your route - moderate brush found on loop routes !

2+ days:
  •  Carrizo Spring Camp:  [map]  [RoundTrip=5mi]
         Views of rock formations, Junipero Serra Peak and "The Rocks" valley
  •  Pine Valley:  [map]  [RoundTrip=11mi]
         Meadowed valley with pine trees and rock formations
  •  Vicente Flat:  [map]  [RoundTrip=10mi]
         Redwood forest with views of Big Sur coast and Cone Peak along the way
  •  from Los Padres Dam:  Any camp on the Carmel River Trail  [map]
         Riparian valley amid oaks
  •  from Arroyo Seco Recreation Area:  Any camp on the Marble Peak Trail  [map]
         Narrow riparian valley
  •  from Memorial Park:  Any camp on the Arroyo Seco Trail  [map]
         Pine and oak forest
  •  from Route 1:  Boronda Trail to:  Cold Spring Camp  [map]  [RoundTrip=11mi]  or  Rainbow Camp  [map]  [RoundTrip=20mi]
         Cold Spring Camp has views, Rainbow Camp has a river with views along the way

3+ days:
  •  Carrizo Spring Camp:  [map] with excursion to Cone Peak  [map]  [RoundTrip=16mi]
         Views of rock formations, Junipero Serra Peak and "The Rocks" valley - then views of the coast and all around
  •  Pine Valley:  [map] with excursion to Pine Ridge  [map]  [RoundTrip=18mi]
         Meadowed valley with pine trees and rock formations - then views in all directions
  •  Vicente Flat:  [map] with excursion to:  Cone Peak  [map]  [RoundTrip=22mi]  or  the Stone Ridge Loop  [map]  [RoundTrip=26mi]
         Redwood forest - then views of coast and all around
  •  Carrizo Loop:  Carrizo Trail, North Coast Ridge Trail, Arroyo Seco Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=17mi]
         Views of rock formations, Junipero Serra Peak, "The Rocks" valley, the coast and all around
  •  Arroyo Seco Recreation Area Loop:  Marble Peak Trail, Horse Pasture Trail, Tony Trail, Marble Peak Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=27mi]
         Narrow riparian valley, rock formations, views over mountains and valleys
  •  Route1↔ArroyoSecoRecreationArea One-way:  ("point-to-point")  Boronda Trail, Big Sur Trail, South Fork Trail, Marble Peak Trail, Arroyo Seco Recreation Area  [map]  [RoundTrip=27mi]
         Coastal views, narrow riparian valleys, inland views, etc.
  •  Route 1 Loop:  Boronda Trail, Big Sur Trail, South Fork Trail, Marble Peak Trail, North Coast Ridge Road, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=31mi]
         Coastal views, narrow riparian valleys, inland views, etc. (ambitious due to 72 hr parking limit)
4+ days:
  •  Black Cone Loop:  Pine Ridge Trail, Black Cone Trail, Marble Peak Trail, Tony Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=31mi]
         Seldom visited (and a bit brushy) Black Cone Trail gives views of upper Big Sur River and all over the Ventana
  •  Arroyo Seco Recreation Area Big Loop:  Marble Peak Trail, Horse Pasture Trail, Church Creek Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Black Cone Trail, Marble Peak Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=38mi]
         Larger loop on the Black Cone Trail starting from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area
  •  Lost Valley Loop:  Marble Peak Trail, Lost Valley Trail, ArroyoSeco-Indians Road (closed to vehicles), back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=39mi] (can access from Arroyo Seco Recreation Area or Escondido Camp)
         Celebrate the recent clearing of the Lost Valley Trail after 6+ years of being "lost"

Jack's additional suggestions:

5+ days:
  •  Arroyo Seco Recreation Grand Loop:  ArroyoSeco-Indians Road (closed to vehicles), Rodeo Flat Trail, North Coast Ridge Trail, North Coast Ridge Road (dirt), Marble Peak Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=45mi]  (can also access from Escondido Camp)
         NB: if hiking in reverse direction, descend on Arroyo Seco Trail instead of Rodeo Flat Trail (traction problems on latter)

? days:

  •  Grand Triple Loop: from Arroyo Seco Recreation Area: [map]  [RoundTrip=107mi]



Jack's Silver Peak Wilderness backpacking suggestions:

2+ days:
  •  Estrella Camp:  via Salmon Creek Trail  [map]  [RoundTrip=6mi]
         Waterfalls and stream lead to secluded camp
  •  Buckeye Camp:  via Buckeye Trail  [map]  [RoundTrip=7mi]  or  via Cruikshank Trail  [map]  [RoundTrip=9mi]
         Pleasant secluded camp
  •  Three Peaks Loop:  Salmon Creek Trail, South Coast Ridge Road (dirt), Three Peaks Trail, Spruce Creek Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=15mi]
         Waterfalls and inland and coastal views (Suggest camping at Three Peaks Campground)
  •  Dutra Flat Loop:  Baldwin Ranch Road (gated), County Line Ridge, Murry Mine Track, Spruce Creek Trail, back to start  [map]  [RoundTrip=15mi]
         Coastal and inland views  (Consider camping at Dutra homestead site instead of Dutra Flat Camp. Note: Inland end of Murry Mine Track a bit brushy/obscure.)



Click to thank: